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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Police in Indonesia's restive province of Papua have detained a Pole suspected of working as a journalist to cover issues related to illegal activity, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Although President Joko Widodo has promised to ease media curbs in Indonesia's easternmost province, which is still one of its poorest, journalists face challenges in reporting from the region.

The province has battled a long-running separatist movement since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969 and remains the country's most heavily militarised region.

Jakub Fabian Skrzypski entered Indonesia on a tourist visa but was suspected of reporting as a journalist, said the spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir.

"We are investigating the whole thing, because his coverage plans are suspected to be related to illegal activity," Nasir added, without elaborating.

Skrzypski was arrested last week with two Papuans on their way to meet representatives of armed groups waiting to buy ammunition, the Jakarta Post newspaper said.

The Polish embassy in Jakarta did not immediately comment on the incident.

A BBC journalist was forced to leave Papua this year after the military said messages she posted on social network Twitter during her assignment had been misleading.

(Reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Clarence Fernandez)

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Reuters