Konradus Epa, Jakarta
Updated: September 03, 2021 05:54 AM GMT
A soldier fires his rifle on a shooting range in this file photo. Four Indonesian soldiers were killed by separatist rebels in Maybrat district of West Papua province on Sept. 2. (Photo: tniad.mil.id)
Four soldiers were killed by separatist rebels on Sept. 2 during an attack on a military post in Indonesia’s restive West Papua province.
Dozens of rebels attacked the post before dawn in Kisor in Maybrat district while the soldiers were still sleeping.
Four soldiers died and two others were seriously injured in the attack.
Local military commander Major General I Nyoman Cantiasa said at least 50 separatists armed with machetes, axes and arrows attacked the soldiers.
“Five soldiers managed to escape and military units are now hunting the perpetrators,” Cantiasa said.
The attack was thought to be in revenge for the arrest of five separatists by the military last week. Among those arrested was the head of Wusama subdistrict, Etius Baye, who is suspected of helping fund the rebels.
This action was part of our war to free Papua. It will not stop and further attacks will come at any time
The other four were suspected of killing two construction workers last week in Yahukimo district.
The West Papua National Liberation Army and the Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) later claimed responsibility for the attacks.
“This action was part of our war to free Papua. It will not stop and further attacks will come at any time,” Sebby Sambom, the group’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The violence was the latest in a series of rebel attacks over the last year that has left scores of rebels, civilians and members of the Indonesian security forces dead.
Meanwhile, security forces have been accused of policing Papua with an iron fist, alienating the local population even further.
The rebels want Papua to break free from Indonesia, which took control of the region in 1969 following a UN-sponsored referendum that many locals said was a sham.
Theo Hesegem, executive director of the Papua Justice and Human Integrity Foundation, called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to “hear the voices and cries of the victims' families” and bring a negotiated end to the violence.
Crackdowns and harsh law enforcement will not solve matters and will only make things worse, he told UCA News. “It is better to hold dialogue,” he said.
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