4 Mar 2019

Papua police deny Nduga military operations

5:57 pm on 4 March 2019

Reports of a new military operation in Papua's troubled Nduga regency are a "hoax", Papua's police chief says.

West Papua Liberation Army monitoring Indonesian military flyover in Nduga, 11 July 2018.

West Papua Liberation Army monitoring Indonesian military flyover in Nduga, 11 July 2018. Photo: TPNPB

The comments are in response to the West Papua Liberation Army, which destroyed a state-owned digger last week, and now claims Indonesian military and police are carrying out revenge attacks.

A spokesperson for the Liberation Army, Sebby Sambon, said Indonesian forces burned down six houses in Yal district on Friday.

He said civilians across Nduga had fled into forests and that on Saturday, there was armed conflict between the Liberation Army, military and police.

But the police chief, Martuani Sormin, told state media the only operation in Nduga was an ongoing hunt for the Liberation Army after violence in December.

Mr Sormin urged locals not to take refuge, adding that military and police were unable to identify how many displaced villagers there were because they were being denied access to them.

Mr Sambon said the Liberation Army had called on the Indonesian government to stop military operations in Nduga and accept negotiations with the group.

The Liberation Army has said it's willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement to conflict in Nduga, which has ramped up since it massacred 16 Indonesian road construction workers in December.

A joint military and police operation code-named Operation Nemangkawi has deployed hundreds of security personnel to the district in a hunt for members of the Liberation Army.

Early last year the Liberation Army declared war on the Indonesian state, carrying out a series of attacks on security forces or state infrastructure.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs