Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – Two soldiers from the Indonesian Military, or TNI, were killed in a gunfight with an armed criminal group in Sugapa in Papua's Intan Jaya district on Tuesday, a statement from the TNI said on Wednesday.
The two soldiers were members of a joint security task force made up of TNI and National Police personnel and were on patrol duty when attacked by the armed group.
The task force was patrolling Sugapa after receiving complaints from residents saying they had received threats from the armed group as they were making preparations for Christmas celebrations in the town.
The armed group, according to the TNI statement, had intimidated, physically abused, robbed and raped local residents on many occasions.
"The gunfight happened when [the joint task force] went on their routine patrol. Two TNI soldiers, First Lieut. Erizal Zuhri Sidabutar and Sergeant Rizky were killed," the TNI statement said.
The bodies of the soldiers are now being evacuated from Sugapa. Other members of the task force are in pursuit of the armed group. The same group is suspected of killing three motorcycle taxi drivers in the same area in October.