Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Two Indonesian marines were killed and eight wounded in an attack by separatist rebels on a military post in restive Papua province.
It follows an attack by the same group earlier this month in which eight civilians were slain.
Indonesian Navy spokesman Julius Widjojono said the rebels attacked the post in Kenyam in Papua's Nduga district on March 26 with grenade launchers stolen from previous attacks on army posts.
Two marines were killed, two were seriously injured and another six sustained minor wounds.
One of those killed was a Christian from Catholic-majority East Nusa Tenggara province. Their bodies were flown home on March 27 for their funerals the next day.
The West Papua National Liberation Army and the Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) claimed responsibility for the attack.
TPNPB-OPM spokesman Sebby Sambom said the attack coincided the armed group's 51st anniversary.
The Indonesian military has maintained a strong presence in the district since December 2018 following the killing of at least 20 workers of a state-owned construction firm.
The workers were building a road as part of an infrastructure project of President Joko Widodo.
Earlier this month the same group claimed responsibility for another attack in which eight technicians were killed in Puncak district while fixing a transceiver station.
According to the group's spokesman, the workers were all shot on March 2 for entering an area which the rebels had previously declared a no-go zone for civilians.
The March 26 attack was also the latest in a series of assaults by rebels on military personnel.
Four soldiers were killed by separatist rebels on Sept. 2 last year during an attack on a military post in Indonesia's West Papua province.
Dozens of rebels attacked the post before dawn in Kisor in Maybrat district while the soldiers were still sleeping.
Speaking with UCA News, Yones Douw, a local rights activist, said the only solution to ending violence is for dialogue between the government and the rebel group.
"Military responses are not enough. There will be more victims if talks are ignored," he said.