Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Three soldiers were killed and another was seriously wounded by an armed separatist group during an attack on a military post in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, the army said.
The Jan. 27 attack was carried out by the West Papua National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Organization, in Tigilobak of Puncak district.
Indonesian military spokesman Colonel Aqsha Erlangga said the rebels ambushed the soldiers at dawn while the guard was being changed at the military post.
He said the rebels killed one soldier at the scene and mortally wounded another before fleeing into the jungle.
They attacked again while Indonesian soldiers were trying to evacuate the badly wounded soldier, fatally wounding one more trooper and injuring another.
West Papua National Liberation Army spokesman Sebby Sambom later claimed responsibility for the attack.
If the central government cares about the common good, it will tell all Papuan people, including separatist rebels, to sit down for talks
"[We] will continue to mobilize our fighters in our 34 defense regions throughout the Land of Papua," the Papuan news portal jubi.co.id quoted him as saying.
Father Bernard Baru, chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Augustinian Order in Papua, condemned the attack and called on both sides to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict through dialogue.
"If the central government cares about the common good, it will tell all Papuan people, including separatist rebels, to sit down for talks," he told UCA News.
He said the Catholic Church could play a significant role as a mediator.
The attack was the latest in a decades-long campaign of violence by separatists seeking independence from Indonesia.
In September last year, four soldiers were killed by separatist rebels during an attack on a military post in Kisor in West Papua province's Maybrat district.