West Papua Liberation Army fighter shot dead, claims Indonesia

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Indonesian police quell a demonstration in the Papuan region
Indonesian police quell a demonstration in the Papuan region. Image: Whens Tebay/RNZ Pacific

A joint force of Indonesian military and police are claiming to have shot dead a member of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in Central Papua Province on Wednesday last week.

Jubi TV Papua reports the joint force was conducting aerial surveillance after a motorcycle taxi driver had been shot dead by someone who police claim was a TPNB soldier disguised as a passenger in Puncak’s Ilaga on the same day.

A Papua Police spokesperson, Senior Commander Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo, told Jubi TV the aerial surveillance team spotted a group of people carrying firearms who they suspected were TPNPB and a firefight erupted.

“When monitoring through aerial observation, about 20 people were seen carrying two firearms. They were crossing from Mundidok towards Kimak. Then a firefight occurred,” Commander Prabowo said in Jayapura City on Thursday.

According to the commander, the body of a suspected Liberation Army member was only found when the security forces swept the location of the firefight.

“The officers also found three units of 5.56 MM caliber, one 5.56 MM calibre ammunition casing, two noken (traditional woven bag), a motorcycle key, and two packs of cigarettes at the scene. There were no injuries or casualties from the security forces,” he said.

A video of Indonesian security forces with the body has been sighted by RNZ Pacific. It shows three unmasked members of the joint security operation in full tactical gear standing over what appears to be the bloodied body of the Papuan who was shot and killed.

RNZ Pacific has chosen not to release the video.

TPNPB denies involvement — says person killed was civilian
A spokesperson for the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), Sebby Sambom, has denied any involvement in the incident and said Indonesian military and police forces had killed an innocent civilian.

“A massive military operation is being carried out by the Indonesian military and police in Ilaga and other areas,” Sambom said.

“In this case the Indonesian military and police claim to have killed TPNPB members, but their claim is not true,” he said.

Sambom is calling on the UN and the international community not to remain silent.

“But [they] must take urgent humanitarian action to save indigenous Papuans from genocide that has been and is being carried out by the government of Indonesia,” he said.

The West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB) is the group holding New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens hostage in a separate ongoing kidnapping crisis which happened in Nduga Regency in the neighbouring Highland Papua Province on February 7.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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