Jayapura, Papua. Four army soldiers including a junior officer died and two others sustained severe injuries after a group of gunmen attacked a military post in South Aifat District in the West Papua town of Maybrat early on Thursday, the Indonesian Military said.
The attack occurred at around 03:00 a.m. local time, allegedly involved a local armed criminal group, according to Maj. Gen. I Nyoman Chantiasa, commander of the Kasuari Provincial Military Command in Papua.
There were around 50 attackers who raided the post when all the victims were sleeping, Chantiasa said.
The slain soldiers were identified by their first names as Sergeant Amrosius, Master Private Dirham, Private First Class Zul Ansari and First Lieutenant Dirman – the highest-ranking soldier among the victims.
The body of Dirham was found at a dense bush near the post while three soldiers were killed inside the post, Chantiasa said.
Private First Class Ikbal and Staff Sergeant Juliano survived the attack with severe injuries, but the surrounding circumstance remains unclear.
“I will deliver a press conference later,” Chantiasa said, adding that investigation is underway.
The attack came weeks before neighboring Papua host multi-sport event the National Games.
The restive Papua and West Papua provinces continue to cause a headache for Indonesian security officials, with attacks occurring sporadically and often targeting civilians such as construction workers.
Jakarta has officially labeled the armed separatist group in Papua and West Papua as terrorist organization despite a lack of any specific identification of the group.
The decision, which immediately drew objection from the Papua governor, came after a series of attacks on security officials and civilians.
“The government considers the Papuan organization and its people who have committed massive acts of violence as terrorists,” Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD said on April 29.
Mahfud pointed to the 2018 anti-terrorism law that defines terrorism as “deliberate violence to provoke terror and fear in the public in a way that can cause widespread deaths and/or destruction of the environment, public facilities or international facilities motivated by political and/or ideological purposes”.
“Based on this definition, activities by the armed criminal group under whatever name, its people and those affiliated with it are classified as the act of terror," Mahfud said.
He said the government will never recognize any movement to separate Papua from Indonesia, pointing to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2504 on the transfer of administration of West Papua from the Netherlands to Indonesia ratified in 1969.
“Papua, including West Papua, is a legitimate part of the Republic of Indonesia," he said.