Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) reclaimed Bibida sub-district in Paniai, Central Papua, from the separatist group Free Papua Movement (OPM) on Friday without bloodshed among the local population.

“Professional actions by TNI soldiers in reclaiming Bibida sub-district, which had been under OPM’s control, are our latest effort to create a safe and conducive situation in the Papua region,” TNI's Commander of Joint Defense Regional Command III, Lieutenant General Richard T. H. Tampubolon, stated.

In a statement on Saturday, TNI’s Habema Operational Command said that the military operation in Bibida was conducted after OPM murdered Rusli, a 40-year-old resident from South Sulawesi in East Paniai sub-district, Central Papua, on June 11.

After attacking Rusli, members of the group led by Undius Kogoa fled to Bibida, where they were cornered by pursuing TNI officers. In a desperate attempt, the OPM members coerced the villagers into acting as their human shields.

TNI officers were undeterred by OPM's actions and continued to act prudently in neutralizing the separatists to reduce the risk of misfires that can harm residents, especially those forced to be human shields, according to the statement.

The TNI's sustained operation resulted in the successful recapture of the region without any casualties, either from the TNI or Bibida residents. TNI officers also confiscated weapons and ammunition stashed by the OPM in the sub-district.

Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have time and again 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.

In response, the military and the police set up the Habema Operational Command earlier this year to optimize joint security operations in Papua to prevent local conflicts and neutralize OPM's threats.

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Reporter: Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Anton Santoso
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