Jakarta (ANTARA) - The police evacuated 800 villagers in the mountainous area in Timika, Papua, to Timika City to avoid acts of terror by the armed criminal group in the region.

The evacuees are residents of the three villages of Utikini, Banti, and Kimbely, the Indonesian Police's Nemangkawi Operation Task Force noted in a statement here on late Friday.

Earlier on in the day, some 30 villagers had sought refuge at the Tembagapura police station after they were intimidated by the armed group. They urged the police to evacuate them to the city.

The villagers felt unsafe in the presence of the armed group that often compelled them to provide food and brandished their guns at them.

"We thank the police for protecting us, giving us food, and evacuating us to Timika City. We are scared and unsafe in our own village, especially children," Agus Beanal, a local figure of Banti Village, stated.

The evacuation process has run from Friday morning to 6 p.m. local time, Tembagapura Police Chief Adjunct Commissioner Hermanto noted.

"Until 6 p.m. local time, some 800 people were evacuated, including men, women, and children, from Longsoran, Batu Besar, and Kimbely kampongs," he remarked.

The police has prepared 13 buses to transport them to the city and some other locations.

"We have prepared food for those still waiting for the bus while awaiting transportation to Timika," Hermanto stated.

The security situation in Papua remains vulnerable to acts of deadly violence by notorious Papuan separatists.

The rebels were engaged in repeated exchanges of fire with the Indonesian military and police personnel.

The rebels had also launched deadly attacks on civilians over the past years and killed several of them.

In 2019, some 23 shooting and criminal cases involving Papuan groups had claimed the lives of 10 members of the Indonesian police and military as well as 10 civilians, the Papua Police recorded.

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Translator: Zuhdiar Laeis, Sri Haryati
Editor: Suharto
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