Jayapura, 11/2 (Jubi) – At least 50 marine personnel were searching for five fishermen from Merauke who went missing in Papua New Guinea waters after their boat was drowned by armed men suspected to be PNG soldiers, a navy commander said.
Commander of Lantamal XI Merauke, Brig (Mar) Buyung Lalana said the navy was scouring the sea with the help of five survivors.
“We are not involving the PNG Army because they are responsible to the missing of five fishermen. They burned the boat and ordered the fishermen to swim ashore. The PNG Army also took the fishermen’s money of 160 Kinas or around Rp 480 million, and cigarettes and fuels as well,” he said by phone on Tuesday (11/2).
He said the Indonesian fishermen from Merauke had regularly crossed the border to PNG to look for sea cucumbers and buy crops.
“It was not the first time those fishermen had crossed the border. It’s already a tradition,” he said.
The Indonesian Consul in Vanimo, PNG, Jahar Goltom, said the Indonesian Consulate is still awaiting the official clarification from PNG through its Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding to this incident.
“It is true that the scene is located in the Western Province. But it is still in our working area, so we asked the official clarification to the PNG Government about the action of their army towards our fishermen,” he said.
Further, according to him, the Consulate and Embassy in Port Moresby is also coordinating with the PNG Government to conduct a search operation. (Jubi/Arjuna/rom)