Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Several armed Papuan separatists disrupted a stone-burning ceremony held by locals in Ilaga, Papua province on Thursday to celebrate the restoration of peace and security in the capital of Puncak district, the military said.

The armed rebels sporadically shot at locals joining the "Bakar Batu", or stone-roasting ritual, from a distance, but no was injured in the firing, according to a local military officer.

The shooting, which broke out at 1:30 p.m. local time, triggered a counter-attack from security personnel safeguarding the event, Commander of the 173/PVB District Military Command, Brig.Gen.Iwan Setiawan, informed.

The security personnel chased the attackers and combed the area from where they launched their assault, he said, adding that he could not yet confirm which armed Papuan group was responsible for the incident.

However, Setiawan said he suspected the Lekagak Telenggen or the Teri Mayu-led group's involvement in the incident as they are known to be active in the district.

The "Bakar Batu" event on Thursday was attended by the Puncak district head, local military and police officers, government officials, and local residents, he added.

Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have used hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and unleashed acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak to create fear among the people.

Construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and even civilian aircraft have been the recent targets of their violence.

On April 25, 2021, Papuan separatists operating in Beoga, ambushed State Intelligence Agency (Papua) chief Maj. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha and several security personnel during their visit to Dambet village.

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Following Nugraha's fatal shooting, President Joko Widodo ordered the TNI and National Police to track down and arrest members of all separatist and terrorist groups operating in Papua, stressing there is no place for them within the Indonesian territory.

Taking note of the ongoing security disturbances, People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo has said that the state must not allow armed separatists to continue to terrorize communities in Papua.

It must ensure that the Papuans' rights to enjoy the outcomes of development programs in the country's easternmost province are not disrupted and hijacked by continued acts of terror, he stressed.

To defend the rights of Papuan people to enjoy the outcomes of development, the TNI and National Police personnel must remain present in Papua, Soesatyo said in a recent press statement.

The areas of Ilaga, Nduga, Kenyam, and Intan Jaya remain vulnerable due to the threat posed by separatist terrorists, he stated. (INE)

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Translator: Evarukdijati, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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