Timika, C Papua (ANTARA) - Indonesian troops hit back at three armed rebels who often terrorized residents of Bazemba Village in Sugapa Sub-district, Intan Jaya District, Central Papua, in a gunfight at the end of May, a military officer stated.

The soldiers who engaged in the gunfight belong to the Indonesian Defense Forces' (TNI) Habema Operations Command, Commander of the Joint Defense Regional Command (Kogabwilhan) III Lt. Gen. Richard T. H. Tampubolon remarked.

The shootout occurred after the Apeni Kobogau-led separatists opened fire on the troops who were heading to Bazemba to respond to the villagers' reports of the rebels' repeated acts of terrorism against them, he noted.

In the gunfight, the TNI personnel successfully forced the armed rebels to withdraw from Bazemba Village and to manage to escape to Wandoge Village, he noted in a press statement received here, Wednesday.

"The Apeni Kobogau-led separatists have repeatedly disrupted security in Bazemba Village by assaulting locals and robbing their staple food stocks and money," Tampubolon remarked.

Restoring peace and security in the villages of Bazemba and Wandoga has been part of TNI's endeavors to help drive the government's commitment to accelerating regional development in Papua, he affirmed.

Earlier, General Subiyanto had called the Free Papua Organization (OPM) by its given name and issued a letter directing the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command to use the term OPM from April 5.

The policy shift changed the decision made by the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs on April 29, 2021, to refer to armed criminal groups (KKB) as KST or separatist terrorist groups.

Over the past few years, the OPM's armed groups have often employed hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and mounted acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak 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.

Related news: Police, army deployed at Papua hospital after rebel threat: official

On December 2, 2018, an armed Papuan group 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.

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. He was piloting an aircraft belonging to Indonesian airline Susi Air when he was captured by the armed group. Members of the group set his aircraft on fire shortly after it landed in Nduga District.

On October 16, 2023, Papuan separatists attacked several traditional gold miners in Yahukimo District, Papua Pegunungan Province, killing seven of them.

On November 25, 2023, four soldiers were killed in a gunfight with Papuan rebels in Paro Sub-district, Nduga District, Papua Province.

Thereafter, on January 19, 2024, a gunfight broke out between Indonesian security personnel and members of an armed group operating in Intan Jaya District, Central Papua.

A Brimob ranger named Alfando Steve Karamoy sustained gunshot wounds in the clash.

Thereafter, on April 10, 2024, the commandant of the 1703-04 Aradide Sub-district Military Command, Second Lieutenant Oktovianus Sogalrey, was shot dead by Papuan rebels in Paniai District, Central Papua.

Related news: Development in Papua Pegunungan is based on regional context: VP

Translator: Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Aditya Eko Sigit Wicaksono
Copyright © ANTARA 2024