Indonesia dismisses insurgent declare of military deaths in Papua Lalrp LKEMHAW5ZAI63J4OTJ6CIGFQBQ

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s army chief on Tuesday dismissed a separatist group declare that they’d killed greater than a dozen authorities troopers who have been looking for a New Zealand pilot taken hostage by the rebels within the restive Papua area.

Adm. Yudo Margono and the army’s high brass flew to the area on Monday after preliminary info mentioned attackers from the West Papua Liberation Military, the armed wing of the Free Papua Motion, ambushed 36 authorities troopers within the hilly district of Nduga in mountainous Papua Highlands province.

Insurgent spokesperson Sebby Sambom mentioned in an announcement on Monday that his group’s fighters have been holding the stays of 12 troopers, together with 9 who he mentioned “have been arrested and executed.” The rebels provided no proof to again up their assertion.

Margono confirmed just one fatality and mentioned 4 different troopers have been lacking. The remainder returned to their submit, he mentioned. 4 have been wounded and have been in secure situation and evacuated to a hospital in Timika, a mining metropolis in neighboring Central Papua province.

“I’m right here to search out out instantly and precisely from our troops on the bottom in regards to the precise state of affairs, in order that we will consider our (rescue) mission for the pilot,” Margono instructed a information convention in Timika.

The troopers have been a part of a bunch looking for Phillip Mark Mehrtens, a New Zealand pilot for the Indonesian aviation firm Susi Air who was kidnapped by the rebels in February.

Sambom mentioned in an earlier assertion that the rebels carried out the assault in retaliation towards Indonesia’s “huge army operation” in Papua and the killings of two rebels in a shootout with safety forces final month.

Margono rejected the insurgent claims as “pretend information” and mentioned the army operations in Papua have been launched with a view to maintain casualties at a minimal. Nonetheless, he mentioned that authorities will enhance strain on the rebels round a number of separatist strongholds, together with in Nduga.

The rebels in February stormed a single-engine aircraft shortly after it landed on a small runway in Paro and kidnapped its pilot. The aircraft initially was scheduled to select up 15 development employees who had been constructing a well being heart after the rebels threatened to kill them.

Authorities will proceed to prioritize a peaceable strategy for the discharge of Mehrtens, Margono mentioned.

The preventing is the most recent in a collection of violent incidents lately in Papua, a former Dutch colony within the western a part of New Guinea that’s ethnically and culturally distinct from a lot of Indonesia. Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian safety forces are frequent.

Papua was included into Indonesia in 1969, after a U.N.-sponsored poll that was extensively seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered within the area, which is split into 5 provinces since final 12 months to spice up improvement in Indonesia’s poorest area.

Insurgent assaults have spiked up to now 12 months, with dozens of rebels, safety forces and civilians killed.