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Doctors in Indonesia demand protection after nurse killed

Association condemns an attack on a clinic in Papua by suspected separatist rebels

Doctors in Indonesia demand protection after nurse killed

Members of a Papuan rebel separatist group are seen in this undated file photo. (Photo: Jakarta Globe/Banjir Ambarita)

Doctors in Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua have demanded protection following an attack by gunmen on a clinic in which a nurse was killed and another seriously wounded.

The body of 22-year-old Gabriela Meilan was found by security forces in a ravine on Sept. 15, two days after around 50 gunmen attacked six medical workers and set fire to a clinic in Kiwirok in the mountainous district of Pegunungan Bintang.

A bank, school building and a market were also set ablaze by the attackers, believed to be members of a separatist group known locally as the KKB.

Security forces also found an injured nurse nearby with stab wounds to her back.

Donald Willem S. Aronggear, chairman of the Papua chapter of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), condemned the attack and called on Papua governor Lukas Enembe to provide better protection for medical workers.

“Authorities need to guarantee the protection and safety of all medical workers in Papua province,” he said in a letter to the governor.

Put aside politics. It has nothing to do with medical workers, who focus only on serving people. What they do is a noble job

“Medical workers should be able to go about their work without fear or threats,” Aronggear said on Sept. 17

“Put aside politics. It has nothing to do with medical workers, who focus only on serving people. What they do is a noble job.” 

More than 250 medical workers took to the streets and lit 1,000 candles in Oksibil, the capital of Pegunungan Bintang district, to protest the attack and to remember the dead nurse and support her colleagues.

Emanuel Gobay, a human rights activist and director of the Legal Aid Institute in Papua, also stressed the need to protect medical workers in the restive province.

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“Clinics and medical workers are part of the fulfillment of people’s right to health. Their protection must be guaranteed. A thorough investigation into the attack is needed,” he told UCA News.

According to a military official, the attack on the clinic was in retaliation for the earlier arrest of two members of the KKB and the seizure of about 50 weapons by soldiers.

It also came nearly two weeks after four soldiers were killed in an ambush on a military post in Maybrat district of West Papua province.

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