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Military vows retaliatory action in Papua

Antara News - August 4, 2011

The Indonesian Army has threatened to take firm military action against separatists allegedly involved in the recent spate of violence in Papua.

"We will take military approaches against anyone who disturbs us," Army Chief Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo said on Wednesday.

The statement came after suspected members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) attacked an Army helicopter as it evacuated the body of a soldier killed by the rebels.

The helicopter was evacuating the body of Private Fana Suhandi, a member of 753 Battalion, to Wamena on Wednesday. Fana had been guarding a military post in Tingginambut when he was shot in the chest on Tuesday. He died instantly.

Edhie said the separatists attacked the military because they disliked its presence in Papuan villages.

He said soldiers had been deployed to the villages to conduct village-development programs (TMMD). "The villages that TNI chooses to conduct the TMMD programs are those that we believe are likely to be influenced by the OPM," he said.

He said the military helped villagers build houses without asking for anything in return, unlike the rebels.

To prevent the violence from escalating in Papua, the military plans to increase security, he said. "Nobody is allowed to obstruct people's activities."

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the government would not tolerate any actions that threatened the unity of Indonesia. "The main principle is, we don't want Indonesia to split apart," Purnomo said at the Presidential Palace.