Jayapura. Five Indonesian fishermen remained missing as of Sunday after military officers in neighboring Papua New Guinea allegedly told them to jump off their boat before setting it on fire.
A total of 10 fishermen from the Papua district of Merauke were on board a fishing boat searching for sea cucumbers in waters off Merauke, near the border between Indonesia and PNG, on Thursday, when they were accused of breaching the border.
Dozens of PNG military soldiers stopped the boat, and brought the men on board the military ship, before setting the boat — along with its load — on fire.
The 10 Indonesian fishermen were then told to jump into waters approximately 5 kilometers away from Merauke’s coast, Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Pujo Sulistyo said.
“Five of them survived. They were able to reach an [Indonesian Navy] post… in Merauke,” Pujo said on Saturday. “But the whereabouts of five others are unknown.”
On Sunday, a joint team from the Indonesian Navy, the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) and local volunteers continued the search for the five missing fishermen.
Brig. Gen. (Marine) Buyung Lalana, the commander of the Indonesian Navy’s Merauke office, said the Navy ship KRI BOA was ready to be dispatched if the search yielded no results.
He added the Indonesian Navy was investigating the matter.
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Archipelago | Sun, February 09 2014, 3:50 PM
Five Indonesian fishermen from Merauke have been reported missing after their boat was destroyed by Papua New Guinea (PNG) military personnel and forced to swim back to Merauke.
“A joint military and police operation, in cooperation with local communities, are searching for the missing fishermen in the area where they were reportedly forced to swim back to Indonesian waters,” Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr.Pudjo Sulistio said in Jayapura, Papua, on Sunday.
A group of 10 fishermen, who live in Kampung Lampu Satu, Merauke, reportedly set off on Thursday last week from Lampu Satu Beach to Kampung Kadawa in PNG in a 40 horsepower speedboat.
They were allowed to enter PNG waters after completing document and luggage checks at a naval marine post. Once in Karu waters, however, they were approached by three PNG military vessels.
The PNG security personnel checked the men's documents and proceeded to confiscate a sum of money, a box of cigarettes and two jerry cans of fuel.
The military personnel then set the speedboat alight and ordered the 10 fishermen to swim back to Merauke. Only five fishermen managed to reach the coast off Karu, which is also in PNG territory, while the other five men remain unaccounted for.
Two of the fishermen, Basik Basik Anthony and James Mahuze, made it back to Merauke a day later and reported the incident.
“The Papua provincial administration has sent a letter to the Indonesian Embassy in Port Moresby to report the incident. The embassy will send a team to Merauke to determine the cause of the incident and will report their findings to the PNG authorities,” Pudjo said. (ebf)