Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Fifty-three residents of Eronggobak Village in Omukia Subdistrict, Puncak District, Central Papua Province, have sought refuge at a military post for safety and security reasons, according to a military officer.

"They have been at the Mobile Raider 300/BJW (Brajawijaya) Task Force's Eromaga Post since Friday evening," said Air Vice-Marshal Deni Hasoloan Simanjuntak, Chief of the Joint Regional Defence Command (Kogabwilhan) III, in a statement on Saturday.

The villagers left their homes due to fear of an armed Papuan criminal group operating in the area following an attack on several workers at the construction site of the Omukia medical center on Thursday (Oct 19).

The assault resulted in the death of a 37-year old worker, named Otto, and injuries of two others, Simanjuntak said, adding that those seeking refuge and protection were mainly women, children, and elderly individuals.

Among the children sheltered with their parents at the Eromaga Post are Aison Murib (7), Kison Murib (4),Munison Murib (6), Del Kogoya (6), Deki Murib (7), Ekew Wanembo (7), Yordas Wanembo (6), Merinus Murib (7), Tundis Murib (4), Metianus Kogoya (3), Natalia Murib (2), Delson Murib (2), and Yeprison Murib (3).

The displaced villagers informed the task force personnel that they still spotted a man, armed with an arrow and a machete, moving around their village, Simanjuntak said.

They suspected that the man belonged to the Titus Murib-led armed criminal group. On Friday (Oct 20), the task force personnel reportedly engaged in a gunfight with the armed criminals in the Eromaga neighborhood.

They then continued to hunt down the criminals. During their manhunt, the task force personnel fatally shot one of them, he said.

Meanwhile, Police Adjunct Chief Commissioner (AKBP) Bayu Suseno, Spokesperson of the Cartenz Peace Operation Task Force, stated the deceased worker and 22 other workers who survived the assault had been evacuated to Timika, Mimika District.

They were transported by two aircraft, Suseno said, adding that Otto's coffin was flown to Makassar City, South Sulawesi Province, and then taken to Toraja District for burial.

Two of the 22 survivors were injured: Marinus, 37, and Erwin Barapadang, 52. The workers who survived the assault had reunited with their families, he said.

The task force's chief, Police Chief Commissioner (Kombes Pol) Faizal Ramadhani, said earlier that Papuan separatists attacked several people working on the medical center project, killing one worker and injuring two others.

Nineteen workers who survived the assault managed to reach the task force's security post in Ilaga, the capital of Puncak District, and reported the incident, he informed.

Martinus Bala, who survived the assault, said that a group of rebels, armed with guns, machetes, and arrows, launched a surprise attack on the workers on Thursday.

Bala said he lost one of his fingers due to a bullet but he and his workmates managed to escape. "I was not even aware that my finger was bleeding," he added.

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Translator: Evarukdijati, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Anton Santoso
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