Wiranto awaits report on exchange of fire in Papua

Wiranto awaits report on exchange of fire in Papua

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Wiranto (ANTARA/Zuhdiar Laeis)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto said he was awaiting an official report on the recent exchange of fire between the Indonesian security personnel and a group of armed Papuan rebels which led to several casualties among civilians.

"Well, the official report is still awaited," he said here on Thursday in response to a question from journalists on the exchange of fire that broke out in Olenki Village, Mabugi Subdistrict, Puncak District, on September 17.

Wiranto said he would immediately brief the journalists once he received a comprehensive report on the incident.

In connection with the firing in Olenki village between Indonesian troops and brutal armed Papuan separatists, Puncak District Head, Willem Wandik, said on Wednesday that the armed rebels often use villagers as human shields.

Three civilians were killed and four others sustained injuries in the firing. The wounded had been evacuated to Timika's public hospital, while those who succumbed to their injuries would immediately be buried, he said.

To avoid civilian casualties in the future, he appealed to the TNI and the police to carry out a persuasive approach, which would compel the rebels to surrender and stop attacking security personnel and civilians.

Willem Wandik also urged all the parties to maintain peace and end the conflict that could be used by others for their political gains.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu hinted earlier that Indonesia's military (TNI) and the police personnel in Papua would not be withdrawn from the province because armed Papuan separatists continue firing at security forces.

"I have repeatedly stated that the TNI and the National Police will not be withdrawn from Papua because once they are pulled out, Papua will secede," he said in Magelang, Central Java.

Spokesman of the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command, Lt. Col. Eko Daryanto, confirmed that there had been civilian casualties and expressed his condolences.

XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Commander, Major General Herman Asaribab, will coordinate with the Papua police chief to set up a joint team to investigate the incident, he said.

Herman Asaribab would also conduct a comprehensive evaluation on how the operation to hunt down the armed rebels is to be carried out so that further civilian casualties are avoided, he said.
Related news: Indonesian troops will remain in Papua: Defense Minister  

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