Asia-Pacific

Indonesian troops 'kill Papua civilians' after deadly separatist attack

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Four civilians have been killed by Indonesian troops hunting separatist rebels in the restive province of Papua, a local resident says.

Indonesian security forces have killed four civilians during an anti-insurgency operation in the restive province of Papua, according to a local resident.

The four people were killed last week in Mbua and Yigi villages in Nduga district, district youth leader Samuel Tabuni said.

Indonesian military troops prepare to be deployed to Nduga district where suspected separatists shot dead dozens of workers at a field in Wamena, Papua.
Indonesian military troops prepare to be deployed to Nduga district where suspected separatists shot dead dozens of workers at a field in Wamena, Papua.
EPA

The anti-insurgency operation was apparently in response to the fatal shooting of 19 construction workers and one soldier by separatist rebels in the same villages earlier this month.

Papuan police spokesman Ahmad Kamal confirmed they were investigating the allegations.

"We don't know if they [the people killed] were members of the armed criminal group," he said, referring to the separatist Free Papua Movement, which has fought for Papua's independence from Indonesia since the 1960s.

"They may have been killed in a gunfight," he added.

Indonesian soldiers and police officers carry a body bag containing the body of a victim of separatist attack in Nduga.
Indonesian soldiers and police officers carry a body bag containing the body of a victim of separatist attack in Nduga.
EPA

But Tabuni said those killed were civilians, not members of the Free Papua Movement.

"One of them is my uncle, who was a member of the local church council," he said.

The construction workers were killed while they were building roads and bridges, part of President Joko Widodo's drive to improve infrastructure in Papua, where many areas are covered by jungle and road access is limited.

Indonesian troops and workers prepare coffins for the slain construction workers.
Indonesian troops and workers prepare coffins for the slain construction workers.
EPA

The Free Papua Movement had claimed responsibility for the earlier killings, saying it had targeted members of the army's engineering detachment who were enlisted to build roads.

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