Villagers told to return firearms from crashed chopper

Villagers told to return firearms from crashed chopper

Indonesian Military Chief Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto (second left) and the Indonesian Police Chief Gen. Idham Azis (second right) held a press conference at the Silas Papare Air Base in Sentani, Jayapura District, Papua on Tuesday (Feb 18, 2020). ANTARA/Syaiful Hakim/sh

I have coordinated with the Indonesian Police Chief and called on local leaders, and religious leaders in Pegunungan Bintang District to hand over the 11 firearms to the police and the military
Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Indonesian Military Chief Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto has asked villagers of the Pegunungan Bintang District in Papua to return 11 firearms on the Mi-17 Army helicopter that crashed in the area eight months ago. The military search team had found the helicopter wreckage and 12 bodies of passengers and crews, but there was no sign of the firearms at the crash site in the Mandala Mountains, Oksop region of Pegunungan Bintang District.

"I have coordinated with the Indonesian Police Chief and called on local leaders, and religious leaders in Pegunungan Bintang District to hand over the 11 firearms to the police and the military," Tjahjanto said after a military ceremony to send the remains of four soldiers held at Silas Papare Air Base in Sentani, Jayapura District Tuesday.

The Indonesian Police Chief Gen. Idham Azis was also present at the occasion.

The remains of eight other soldiers were sent to their hometowns Monday, February 17.

The weapons were probably being kept by villagers in a nearby village, the Military Chief believed.

"Our concern is that the firearms could be misused," he added.

The police chief has agreed to work jointly with local leaders to persuade villagers to hand over the weapons, according to Tjahjanto.

There is no deadline set for the villagers, he said. "I have met with several people to help in approaching people to voluntarily hand over the 11 firearms and its ammunition."

On the possibility that the weapons might have been seized by a separatist group in the region, Tjahjanto said, "I believe that they (the weapons) are being held by villagers."

As many as 12 people, including the crew members, were killed when an army helicopter M-17 crashed into the Mandala Mountains in Oksob, Pegunungan Bintang District, in June last year.

The helicopter went missing while flying to Okbibab from Oksibil to deliver supplies to soldiers stationed there.

The search team had only found bodies of the soldiers among the wreckage, but the 11 firearms carried by the soldiers were missing, Chief of the Cendrawasih Military Command Major General Herman Asaribab said.

The military helicopter was reportedly carrying seven SS-1 assault rifles, three guns, and one grenade launcher module (GLM).

The Papuan rebels had previously claimed that they had seized weapons and ammunition from the military helicopter. 

Related news: Paratroopers jump drill in Papua observed by military, police chiefs
Related news: TNI Commander Tjahjanto to take office in Papua


Comments