Robert Isidorus, Jakarta – An Indonesian soldier was killed in a separatist attack on the Yuguru River Bridge construction project in Nduga district, Papua, on Saturday.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) believes the gunmen acted under orders of Egianus Kogoya, leader of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
"The incident occurred at 12.45 p.m. Eastern Indonesia Time while a member of the military was on lunch and prayer break; he was suddenly attacked by gunmen from bushes about 300 meters away," said Col. Muhammad Aidi, spokesman for the Cendrawasih Military Command.
Aidi said there may have been four or five attackers. The military is tasked with protecting construction sites on the Trans-Papua Highway, following previous attacks on construction workers.
"The other soldiers returned fire and chased after the attackers but ended the pursuit over security concerns and the inaccessibility of the terrain, which is covered in dense jungle, interspersed with many steep ravines," he said.
The soldier, identified as Pvt. Usman Hambelo, was wounded in the waist. He died about an hour later, before he could be evacuated by helicopter, which had been delayed by poor weather.