28 Jun 2021

Indonesian forces hunt Papuan fighters after construction workers killed

3:45 pm on 28 June 2021

Indonesian police say they are searching for a group behind the deaths of four construction workers in Papua province.

West Papua Liberation Army fighters.

West Papua Liberation Army fighters. Photo: Supplied.

The latest reported deadly violence in Papua occured in Seradala district of Yahukimo regency last Thursday.

Police have blamed the West Papua Liberation Army whose pro-independence guerilla fighters are labelled as terrorists by Jakarta.

A police spokesman told RNZ Pacific that the four victims were civillian construction workers.

He said police and military forces (Polri and TNI) were in joint pursuit for the suspected killers.

It's the latest violent attack by the Liberation Army in its ongoing campaign against the Indonesian state in Papua's highlands region.

The Liberation Army's spokesman Sebby Sambom has warned civillians that their safety cannot be guaranteed in areas which it has declared as war zones.

The zones where attacks have occured since 2018 are in the regencies of Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, Ndugama, the Bintang Highlands and Yahukimo.

"If you're a construction worker, a motorcycle taxi driver, all of you (must) leave conflict areas. Because we cannot be responsible for your lives, we have warned you. But you listen to the TNI-Polri which deceives you by saying we guarantee [your safety], they are deceiving you," Sambom said.

However, a spokesperson for TNI Joint Defense Area Command, Colonel Czi Gusti Nyoman Suriastawa, described the Liberation Army's statement as a deception, deniying that any parts of Papua are a war zone.

Meanwhile the police spokesman was unable to confirm reports that four other construction workers are being held hostage by the pro-independence fighters in Yahukimo.

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