Antara, Jayapura, Papua – The Papua Police confirmed that Joni Botak, a wanted armed criminal group (KKB) leader active in Central Papua Province has been killed by a rival group in a quarrel.
Papua Police Chief Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri also confirmed that a video depicting the killing of Joni Botak and his accomplices circulating on social media is genuine.
"Joni Botak was ambushed, abused, and shot by another KKB group on Monday (April 24) in Intan Jaya region after being accused as a spy," Fakhiri told ANTARA on Saturday.
Joni Botak, a separatist fighter, is wanted by the Indonesian authority for his repeated actions of killing civilians and security officers, he noted.
The police chief remarked that Joni Botak was active from Tembagapura region, where mining activities of Freeport Indonesia are taking place, to Intan Jaya District in Central Papua.
Before his murder, Joni Botak reportedly attempted to enter Tembagapura. However, the attempt was foiled after security officers set up checkpoints at the trails suspected to be used by the separatists to access the region, he remarked.
"Security officers have blocked access to Tembagapura, compelling Joni Botak to return to Intan Jaya, where he met his fate in the hands of the Lewis Kogoya-led separatist group," Fakhiri explained.
Joni Botak rose to prominence following his involvement in a shoot-out at Jipabera in Aroanop Village, Tembagapura, on February 28, 2020, which killed First Constable Doni Priyanto.
Earlier, Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Commander Admiral Yudo Margono decided to elevate the military operation tactic, from a soft approach to battle standby in areas prone to attack in Papua.
The decision was taken with the objective of responding to an escalation in KKB attacks in Papua, especially the ambush perpetrated by Papuan separatists against TNI officers searching the abducted New Zealander pilot Phillip Mehrtens on April 15 that led to the deaths of five officers.
"On account of the April-15 attack, we decided to escalate (our tactic) from soft approach to battle standby," the TNI commander said, as quoted in a TNI statement on April 18.