The West Papua Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the deaths of two Indonesian soldiers in Yahukimo regency on Tuesday.
Indonesia’s Papua region: the provinces of West Papua and Papua Photo: RNZ
It’s the latest in a string of deaths as the Army’s guerilla fighters trade attacks with Indonesia’s military forces who recently mounted a crackdown on the rebels.
The crackdown was ordered by Indonesia’s government following the killing of a senior intelligence chief by the Liberation Army in late April.
The government said Papuan fighters, who it now refers to as a terrorist group, killed the Indonesian two soldiers in Yahukimo’s Dekai district two days ago.
According to the Liberaton Army, a third Indonesian soldier was injured in the attack, following which the Papuan group stole the soldiers’ guns.
A spokesman for Indonesia’s military told RNZ Pacific that the attack happened at Goliat Dekai Yahukimo Airport, and that the two soldiers who died were part of the Pamrahwan Task Force Infantry Battalion R 432.
He said the Indonesian national police were still pursuing the criminal group behind the killings.
The deaths follows confirmation that Indonesia’s military has killed several members of the Liberation Army in Puncak Jaya regency, in the past week.
Indonesian military operations in Papua’s central highlands region intensified in late 2018 after the Liberation Army massacred at least seventeen road construction workers in Nduga.
As the conflict escalated to a new level in recent months, churches and humanitarian workers have warned about the displacement of thousands of villagers caught up in the conflict.