Sol­diers hunt sus­pects in ‘Pa­pua mass killing’

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

IN­DONE­SIAN sol­diers on Wed­nes­day hunted for rebels sus­pected of killing as many as 24 con­struc­tion work­ers in restive Pa­pua prov­ince, as an eye­wit­ness ac­count sup­plied by the mil­i­tary de­scribed a grisly mass ex­e­cu­tion.

The s ur v i v or’s a c c ount de­tailed the killing of at least 19 peo­ple, which if con­firmed would mark the dead­li­est bout of vi­o­lence in years to hit a re­gion wracked by a low-level in­de­pen­dence in­sur­gency.

A Face­book ac­count pur- port­edly run by the Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army of West Pa­pua (TPNPB) said the armed group had killed 24 work­ers on the or­ders of re­gional com­man­der Ekianus Ko­goya.

Author­i­ties have yet to con­firm how many were killed in the week­end at­tack.

On Wed­nes­day, some 150 mi l i t a r y p e r s on ne l wer e fo­cusi ng t hei r op­erat ion at Nduga, a re­mote moun­tain­ous reg ion where a st ateow ned cont rac­tor has been build­ing bridges and roads as part of ef forts to boost in­frastr uc­ture.

‘In­hu­mane acts’

Many Pa­puans view In­done­sia as a colo­nial oc­cu­pier and its build­ing work as a way to ex­ert more con­trol over an im­pov­er­ished re­gion that shares a bor­der with Pa­pua New Guinea, an in­de­pen­dent na­tion.

In­done­sian pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo said on Wed­nes­day he backed the hunt for those be­hind what he de­scribed as the “al­leged as­sault”.

“I have or­dered the chiefs of the mil­i­tar y and na­tional po­lice to chase and ar­rest all the per­pe­tra­tors of these bar­baric and in­hu­mane acts,” he told re­porters in Jakarta.

Po­lice and mil­i­tary teams sent to the area on Mon­day came un­der rebel gun­fire with one sol­dier killed and an­other wounded in the fire­fight, author­i­ties have said.

Four work­ers – in­clud­ing t h re e s u f f e r i n g g u n s h o t wounds – were among a dozen civil­ians who have been evac­u­ated from the area so far.

On Wed­nes­day the mil­i­tary sup­plied an ac­count from one sur­vivor iden­ti­fied by his ini­tials “JA” who claimed about 50 rebels en­tered the work­ers’ camp on Satur­day and led them away with their hands tied be­hind their backs.

The fol­low­ing day the rebels shot dead a group of work­ers, while some tried to es­cape, the ac­count said.

The at t ack­ers al l e g e dl y re­cap­tured six work­ers and slit their throats, ac­cord­ing to the un­in­jured wit­ness, who said at least 19 em­ploy­ees had been killed in all.

Pre­vi­ous lo­cal me­dia re­ports pegged the num­ber of dead be­tween 24 and 31.

AFP has con­firmed with rel­a­tives that the eye­wit­ness worked for the con­trac­tor in the area where the killings al­legedly took place, but his ac­count of a mas­sacre could not be in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied.


In­done­sian Mo­bile Brigade Po­lice head to Nduga, where thirty-one con­struc­tion work­ers are be­lieved to have been shot dead.

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