Indonesian Government Condemns, Takes Firm Stand Against Papua Shootings

"The government has prioritized economic development and welfare improvement for the people in Papua. However security disturbances that have often occurred in the region must not be allowed to continue," President Yudhoyono said.
Jakarta, Feb 22 (ANTARA) - Twelve people consisting of eight Indonesian military officers and four civilians were killed in one day when armed separatists ambushed two different locations in Papua Province, on Thursday (February 21, 2013).

"The government condemned the brutal actions that had claimed the lives of eight TNI (Indonesian Defense Forces) members," Indonesia`s Chief Security Minister Djoko Suyanto said in a press conference in Jakarta a few hours after the shootings.

On Thursday morning, gunmen attacked military officers and civilians in two different locations in Indonesia`s eastern most province of Papua.

The first attack targeted a TNI task force unit post in the Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya District, at around 9.30am local time, killing private Wahyu Bowo who was shot in his chest and neck. Another soldier was wounded in the ambush.

The second attack occurred at around 10.30am local time in Tanggulinik hamlet, Sinak, Puncak District.

Ten members of the Sinak Resort Military Command of the 1714/Puncak Jaya Military Command were on the way to Sinak airstrip to pick up logistics and radio packages from Nabire when they were ambushed. Seven soldiers were killed in the shootings.

The fallen soldiers are First Sergeant M Udin, First Sergeant Frans, First Sergeant Edi, Chief Private Jojon, Chief Private Wemprik and Private Mustofa.

Meanwhile, separatists rebels also shot five civilians, killing four of them and seriously injuring one in Sinak, Papua Province, on the same day.

The five civilians were construction workers who were waiting for an airplane at Sinak airstrip to take them out of Sinak, reliable sources said in Papua on Friday (Feb 22).

Upon their arrival at the airport, they were shot by unidentified gunmen. Four were killed and one badly wounded in the ambush..

Senior Commissioner Gede Sumerta of the Papua Provincial Police confirmed about the deaths of the four civilians during the deadly shooting by the armed group.

The construction workers who were killed, are identified by their names as Yohanis Palimbong, Markus Cavin, Uly, and Rudy. The injured victim is Yohanis Jhoni.

Minister Djoko Suyanto said two different groups had been involved in the latest shootings in Papua.  The gunmen that had attacked the military post in Tingginambut belong to the Goliat Tabani group, he told the press.

The attacks in Tanggulinik, Sinak District, were believed to have been carried out by an armed group led by Murib.  The minister however said that no group had so far claimed responsibility for the shootings.

The minister has ordered the commander of the XVII Cenderawasih Military Command, Major General Christian Zebua, and the Papua Regional Police commander, to coordinate for the arrest of the group members.

"The perpetrators must be caught and immediately judicially processed whoever they are. We hope those who have conducted the attacks and ambush, to be caught and their identities, groups and motives are known," he said.

The minister urged Papua`s people especially community leaders, tribal leaders and religious leaders to cooperate with the government to maintain the conducive situation in the province.

"The incidents did not reflect the situation in general in Papua, which remains conducive, so that people still carry out their daily activities normally and peacefully," he said.

The shootings did not stop on Thursday alone, as three military officers on board a helicopter were injured after being shot by armed separatists on Friday when they were about to evacuate the seven bodies of the fallen soldiers from Sinak to Jayapura, Papua's capital city.

Sources at Mulia, the municipal city of Puncak regency, told Antara news agency the three soldiers - First Lieutenant Amang, Major Asep and Captain Tata - suffered minor injuries in the legs and arms partly by shards of metal.

Rear Admiral Iskandar Sitompul, a spokesman of TNI in Jakarta on Friday said, however, the helicopter`s pilot and co-pilot were not injured in the shootings but a crew member, who is also a military officer, was wounded.
Sitompul said TNI forces are now conducting a manhunt in the two locations in Papua.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro in Jakarta on Friday expressed his concern over the shootings of the TNI`s Puma helicopter which was being used to evacuate the soldiers` bodies.

"The evacuation of the remains has been hampered by bad weather and security disturbance," Yugsiantoro stated.

The commander of the XVII Cenderawasih Military Command overseeing Papua, Major General Zebua, however, said the evacuation process would continue despite the fresh attacks.

"We will take whatever method available to evacuate them," he said in Jayapura on Friday after meeting with Papua regional police chief Inspector General Tito Karnavian. Meanwhile the evacuation process of private Wahyu Bowo`s body in Tingginambut ran smoothly.

In reaction to the deadly shootings in Papua, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a cabinet minister meeting in Jakarta on Friday to discuss the problem.

He said security disturbances may not be allowed to go on in Papua although the government has already changed its approach from security to welfare to tackle problems in the eastern region.

"The government has prioritized economic development and welfare improvement for the people in Papua. However security disturbances that have often occurred in the region must not be allowed to continue," he said, adding that "Social security conditions must be maintained and laws must be enforced."

Indonesia`s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin has said the TNI will take a firm stand by conducting tactical action against armed groups carrying out the shootings.

"The tactical action includes to chase, apprehend and destroy," the deputy minister said in Jakarta on Friday.

He said the latest shootings by the separatist rebels did not affect TNI`s strategic policies in Papua. TNI so far has no plan to send more troops to Papua, he added.

In the defense field, the government has been using a territorial strategy which among other things focuses on the improvement of the people`s welfare and on the promotion of diplomacy of dialog.

However, TNI will respond with tactical action against armed groups that have committed crimes for killing both civilians and soldiers, he stated.

The government`s firm stand against the armed separatist group members has been supported by some Indonesian legislators.

"This security measures must be carried out carefully and supported by intelligence force," Chief of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR)`s Commission I Mahfudz Sidik Sidiq said in Jakarta on Friday.

A lot of military and police personnel as well as civilians had been killed by separatists in Papua so far, he said, adding that public support is needed to help the police and TNI deal with the violence in Papua.

The security officers could not carry out preventive measures without positive public support and political umbrella, he stated.

Tantowi, a member of the House`s Commission I on defense affairs, said in Jakarta on Friday that the parliament will summon the military commander to explain the shooting incidents in Papua.

"Those were pure crimes committed by separatists. I do not see any political aspect in the incidents. Police and the military should investigate the attacks thoroughly," he said. ***2***
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