Protesters burn local assembly building in Papua protest

Protesters burn local assembly building in Papua protest
A Papuan student with her face painted with the colors of the separatist 'Morning Star' flag shout slogans during a rally near the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. A group of West Papuan students in Indonesia's capital staged the protest against racism and called for independence for their region. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Police say protesters in Indonesia’s restive Papua province have set fire to an indigenous assembly building.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo says thousands of protesters torched the building on Thursday in Abepura town. They rallied against racism and called for independence.

Videos posted by residents and circulated online show demonstrators, including students in yellow jackets, chanting “Freedom Papua” and holding banners demanding a referendum for independence. Many in the crowd painted their faces with the separatist Morning Star flag.

Prasetyo could not confirm local media reports that protesters also set fire to several other buildings. The government has blocked telecommunication and internet access in the region since last week amid spreading violent protests.