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Gunmen kill 8 soldiers in 2 sepa rate attacks in Indonesia’s rest ive Papua province

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    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2013
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      Gunmen kill 8 soldiers in 2 separate attacks in Indonesia’s restive Papua province

      By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2:29 PM

      JAYAPURA, Indonesia — Gunmen killed eight soldiers Thursday in two separate attacks against the Indonesian army in the restive easternmost province of Papua, the military said.

      About 20 assailants armed with guns and machetes attacked a group of nine soldiers walking to Ilaga Airport in Puncak district to collect communication equipment, killing seven, provincial army spokesman Lt. Col. Jansen Simanjuntak said.

      Two civilians also were shot in the attack, but their fate was unclear, he said. He said earlier that the two had been killed.

      About an hour before that attack, gunmen stormed an army post in Tinggi Nambut, a village in neighboring Puncak Jaya district, and fatally shot one soldier and injured another before fleeing into the jungle, Simanjuntak said.

      Indonesian military spokesman Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul said the same group was responsible for both attacks. The area is a stronghold of separatists who have battled Indonesian rule in the impoverished region for more than 40 years.

      “They are believed to be old players who always try to disturb the situation there,” Sitompul said in Jakarta, the capital.

      Simanjuntak identified the assailants as members of a local separatist group led by Goliat Tabuni.

      Senior Security Minister Djoko Suyanto said the incidents were “very irresponsible acts by the armed groups in Papua,” adding that “the government very strongly condemns such brutal incidents.” He said the perpetrators would be captured and prosecuted.

      The former Dutch colony of Papua in the western part of New Guinea was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 following a U.N.-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders that has since been dismissed as a sham. A small, poorly armed separatist organization known as the Free Papua Movement has battled for independence since then.

      Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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