Jakarta (ANTARA) - The XVII/Cendrawasih Regional Military Command has confirmed that a joint team of police and army personnel has been deployed at Madi Public Hospital in Paniai district, Central Papua, following a rebel threat.

Information circulated on social media platforms saying that the security personnel have expelled the hospital's patients and shut down its emergency department is a hoax, a military spokesperson said.

Spokesperson for the XVII/Cendrawasih Regional Military Command, Lt.Col Candra Kurniawan, said that the fake news was intentionally created and circulated by Free Papua Movement (OPM) members to create public disturbance.

In fact, members of the OPM's armed wing operating in Paniai area were reported by several residents to have threatened to burn down Madi Public Hospital, he told ANTARA when contacted from Jakarta.

Therefore, to protect the medical facility from the threat, several personnel from the 527 Infantry Battalion and their counterparts from local police have been deployed at the hospital, he added.

The security personnel's presence has also been requested by medical workers at the hospital because they are worried about their safety following the rebels' threat, he said.

On the evening of May 21, 2024, armed rebels set several school buildings and kiosks on fire in Madi village, Paniai Timur sub-district, he added.

Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have often employed hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and mounted acts of terror against civilians in Papua to stoke fear among the people.

The targets of such acts of terror have included construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and also civilian aircraft.

On December 2, 2018, for instance, a group of armed Papuan rebels brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya engaged in the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi sub-district, Nduga district.

Early in the morning of September 2, 2021, several members of a Papuan separatist group operating in Maybrat district ambushed soldiers while they were asleep at the Kisor military post located at Kisor village, South Aifat sub-district.

On March 2, 2022, several members of an armed Papuan group operating in Beoga sub-district, Puncak district, killed eight Palaparing Timur Telematika (PTT) workers who were repairing a base transceiver station (BTS) tower belonging to state-owned telecommunications operator Telkomsel.

On February 7, 2023, New Zealander pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens was taken hostage by the Egianus Kogoya-led armed group.

Philip was piloting an aircraft belonging to Indonesian airline Susi Air when the armed group captured him. Members of the group set his plane on fire shortly after it landed in Nduga district.

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Translator: Genta TM, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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