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