Konradus Epa, Jakarta – A construction worker was killed in an attack by armed separatists in Indonesia's restive Papua province in reprisal for the recent killing of two rebels by security forces, police said.
The shooting took place in Erogama, a remote village in Puncak district, police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said on April 26.
Samsul Sattu, 45, originally from Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi province, was shot while drinking coffee outside his home with two friends on April 25.
The shooting was likely in response to the killing of two West Papua National Liberation Army and Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) members last week by security forces, said Kamal.
TPNPB-OPM commander Luki Murib and Badaki Kogoya were both killed on April 23 in the same village as Sattu.
Kamal said Murib was killed because he was involved in the murder of the Papua regional intelligence chief, Brigadier-General I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, on April 25, 2021, in Beoga, Papua.
The killing of the intelligence chief, the highest-ranking officer to die in the decades-old separatist insurgency, sparked an escalation in the conflict – with more troops deployed – that has claimed the lives of dozens of people including civilians.
A marine was shot and killed and several others were injured on April 22 when rebels ambushed their patrol in Nduga district.
TPNPB-OPM spokesman Sebby Sambom said Sattu was killed because he was an outsider who should not have been in its territory.
The rebels gave a similar reason for killing eight technicians repairing a remote telecommunications tower in the region early last month.
Father John Bunay, coordinator of the Papua Peace Network, said civilians are becoming increasingly vulnerable in the conflict.
"There's an impression that by sending more police and military personnel to the region, Jakarta doesn't want to resolve the problem in Papua, which makes local people more uncomfortable and vulnerable," he told UCA News.
"We hope President Joko Widodo can scale back security forces in the region and give dialogue a chance."