Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu confirmed that the attackers who killed 31 bridge development workers in Papua Province were a group of rebels.

The perpetrators of the shooting of workers at the construction company PT Istaka Karya, who were carrying out road construction in Kali Yigi-Kali Aurak, Yigi sub-district, Nduga District, Papua Province on Sunday (Dec 2), belonged to a rebel group, the minister said here on Tuesday.

"They are criminals but rebels. No criminals would shoot to that extent," Ryacudu disclosed at the parliament building in Senayan area, Jakarta.

He explained that the armed criminal group (KKB) was a rebel group because they wanted to separate Papua from Indonesia.

"They are not a criminal group but a rebel group. They are rebels because they want to separate Papua from Indonesia. That is rebellion," he stressed.

The former Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) remarked that the military or TNI must intervene in dealing with issues of armed groups in Papua.

According to him, handling the case is also the main task of the Ministry of Defense.

"It is the main task of the Ministry of Defense, as well as the TNI, to safeguard the sovereignty of the country, uphold the integrity of the country, and maintain the safety of the nation," he remarked.

Previously, head of the Papua regional police headquarters, Senior Commissioner A.M. Kamal, informed that 31 people had been killed and one was allegedly killed by the KKB in the rivers of Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak, Yigi sub-District in Nduga District, Papua.

He suspected that as many as 24 people were killed on the first day. Out of eight people who tried to escape into the home of a local legislative member, seven were killed by the KKB, while one person has not yet been found.

Sr.Com. Kamal added that the victims were workers at the Istaka Karya project, who were building bridges in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak.

The killing of the victims occurred on Sunday (Dec 2), Kamal added.

The murder was only known when the vehicle which brought workers to the project site did not return as scheduled.

In the meantime, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry General Chairman Rosan P. Roeslani believed that the incident could hamper the process of developing new economic centers in Papua.

"This is a terror against development and we strongly condemn this murder," Roeslani noted in a statement here on Tuesday.

Reporting by Syaiful Hakim
Editing by Bustanuddin, Rahmad Nasution

Reporter: antara
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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