"We affirmed that during the operation (to hunt down the armed group members), the TNI did not use weapons, such as rockets. The soldiers only used 5.56-caliber SS I rifles," Head of the Communication Division of Cenderawasih Regional Military Command, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, stated here on Thursday (Apr 5).
Officers of the TNI (TNI AD/Indonesian Army in particular) and local police noted that some 1,059 people reside in the six villages. Some people live in the plantation area around Opitawak Hamlet while some others in front of the Kingmi Kimbeli Church, with the food supplies running low.
The TNI has denounced the armed group's statement that the people fled to the forest.
The TNI believes that members of the armed group are fleeing to Aroanop Hamlet located in the south of Banti-Opitawak.
"Aroanop is the village that has not yet been recaptured. It is most likely where the members of the armed criminal group are already staying," Aidi added.
The TNI had not planned to pursue the armed group members, who had allegedly fled to Aroanop Hamlet since the distance from Banti-Kimbeli and Opitawak to Aroanop Hamlet was quite far.
It takes a day or two on foot to travel from Banti to Aroanop Hamlet through the hilly and forested area.
The TNI reported that an armed group had burnt down 17 houses in Banti Village of Tembagapura District, Mimika, Papua, from March 24 to April 1, 2018.
The TNI troops then managed to recapture six villages in Tembagapura on April 2, 2018, and continued to chase the armed group members, who fled to the hills and mountains around Banti and Opitawak.