Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian police on Thursday said Rufinus Tigau, who was killed in a gun battle with security personnel on October 26, 2020, had reportedly joined a notorious armed group based in Intan Jaya district, Papua province a year ago.

"Rufinus Tigau is an armed criminal group’s member. His group has become a primary target of a joint team of Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police personnel,” National Police spokesperson, Brig.Gen. Awi Setiyono, told journalists here on Thursday.

The Nemangkawi Task Force targeted the armed Papuan criminal group because its members, including Rufinus Tigau, who reportedly joined the group a year ago, had repeatedly troubled residents of Jalai village in Sugapa subdistrict, Intan Jaya district, he said.

"These armed criminals even robbed the villagers' properties and did not hesitate to kill them," he said adding, according to Tigau’s step-father Antonius Abugau, Tigau grew up in a pious Catholic family.

He, however, changed drastically after joining the armed criminal group, Abugau told Nemangkawi Task Force's investigators, who interviewed him recently, Setiyono said.

"Based on Abugau's statement, his step-son looked changed after joining the armed criminal group. His group had repeatedly robbed locals' properties, threatened local youths, and even killed a tribal leader last August," he informed.

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The tribal leader was reportedly murdered for trying to defend 'mama-mama' (Papuan women) merchants at a local traditional market from the criminal group's oppressions, Abugau told task force personnel, Setiyono said.

Rufinus Tigau's step-brother, Juius Abugau, told the task force's investigators that he had come to terms with his elder step-brother’s death, Setiyono added.

The cycle of violence in the Indonesian province of Papua has remained unbroken with armed groups in the Intan Jaya and Nduga districts continuing to target civilians and security personnel over the past two months.

Intan Jaya district recorded its bloodiest month in September this year, with armed groups mounting a string of attacks in the area, which left two soldiers and two civilians dead and two others injured.

The notorious armed groups in the Indonesian province have continued their acts of terror in October.

On October 9, 2020, for instance, an armed group ambushed a joint fact-finding team (TGPF) set up by the government to probe a recent shooting in Mamba village, Sugapa subdistrict.

The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) confirmed it was behind the attack on the members of the TGPF. One of the fact-finding team's members and a soldier were injured in the attack.

The TGPF member — Gadjah Mada University (UGM) lecturer Bambang Purwoko — was shot in the leg, while TNI soldier First Sgt Faisal Akbar of the Hitadipa Task Force sustained injuries on his waist.

According to the records of the Papua police headquarters, over the past nine months, armed groups operating in Intan Jaya have been involved in 17 cases of violence against civilians and security personnel.

The increasing acts of lethal violence have cost six people, including TNI personnel, their lives, Papua police chief, Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw, revealed recently.

Armed criminals have not only targeted civilians and security personnel, but also set ablaze several excavators and kiosks.

In the past, armed groups used to cross Intan Jaya's areas en route to several mountainous areas, including those in Tembagapura sub-district, Mimika district. However, at present, they have made the district their base.

Waterpauw revealed that six armed groups are currently active in Intan Jaya's areas, including Hipadipa sub-district. They are led by Sebinus Waker and reportedly possess 17 rifles.

They reportedly snatched the weapons during raids against TNI and police personnel, including a Steyr rifle, which they had grabbed in 2015, he said.

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Translator: Anita PD, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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