Jakarta – Three Indonesian Army (TNI AD) personnel were reportedly killed during an armed conflict with West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) freedom fighters in Nduga regency, Papua, on Thursday morning.
Papua military spokesman Col. Muhammad Aidi said more than 50 TPNPB personnel had attacked 25 soldiers who were just starting their shift to secure the trans-Papua toll road project in Mugi district. He added that the attacking group had been led by Egianus Kagoya.
"The soldiers fought them until they returned to the forest. Three soldiers were killed in the conflict," he said in a statement received by The Jakarta Post.
The three soldiers are Second Sgt. Mirwaiyadin, Second Sgt. Yusdin and Second Sgt. Siswanto Bayu Aji.
Aidi said further said that Army personnel had secured five weapons from the TPNPB following the clash. They also found the body of one freedom fighter, who is currently being identified.
He estimated at least seven members of the liberation army had been killed in the fight, but their bodies had been taken away by the group.
Last week, the Indonesian Military (TNI) deployed 600 personnel to Nduga from Makassar, South Sulawesi, following an ambush on bridge workers by rebels.
As for Thursday's incident, TPNPB spokesman Sebby Sambom claimed that his fighters had killed five TNI personnel and all the rebels had survived. "We have also secured four weapons from the Indonesian army," he said.
Meanwhile, Aidi refuted Sebby's claims, saying they were misleading. "They attacked from the highlands. They wouldn't dare get close to us. In fact, we secured five of their weapons after chasing them," he said.
Sebby said the conflict occurred after eight TNI personnel interrogated a resident of Windi village in Derakma district named Amos Kogeya and later burned five traditional houses. (das)