As conflict escalates, TPNPB-OPM threatens to shoot Indonesian workers in Papua

CNN Indonesia – June 7, 2021
Indonesian troops pictured in Papua – Undated (Antara)

Jakarta – The armed conflict in Papua has escalated recently with a series of armed contacts being unavoidable and more loss of life.

The West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation (TPNPB-OPM) has also warned all Indonesians working in Papua to immediately leave the land of the Bird of Paradise as Papua is known.

The threat was issued after they sounded the drums of war against the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) in a conflict which will be centred on the Ilaga region in Puncak regency several weeks ago.

"Looking at the armed confect in the regencies of Puncak, Intan Jaya and Nduga, Papua, we from the TPNPB-OPM Central Headquarters National Commission are issuing a firm warning to all Indonesian migrants who are making a living in the country owned by the Papua nation to immediately leave the armed conflict zone", said TPNPB-OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambom in an official release on Sunday June 6.

Sambom said that they will not hesitate to shoot Indonesian workers who are still in the war zone. According to Sambom, this will be the consequence for those who fail to comply with the ultimatum.

As of posting this report, there has yet to be an official statement from the TNI or Polri on the threat made by the armed criminal group (KKB) which the government has now labeled as terrorists.

A conflict also took place on Friday May 28 when an armed group killed the head of the Oksamol sub-sector in the Bintang Highlands, First Brigadier Mario Sanoy. The group also stole two SS1 assault rifles and a revolver from a police station.

Not long afterwards however, police succeeded in finding the stolen weapons near the armed group's headquarters in the area.

And it has not just been security personnel, civilians have also fallen victim. On Thursday June 3, police said that an armed group was responsible for the shooting of a construction worker named Habel Halenti (30) as he was returning home from Eronggobak village in Ilaga district.

The shooting was witnessed by a friend of Halenti's named Alif who was able to flee and report the incident to the local sectoral police.

"The victim managed to shout, ‘Mercy, commander’. But was shot directly by a KKB member who was pointing the firearm", said Papua regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Ahmad Musthofa Kamal.

On the same day an attack was carried out by an armed group near the Aminggaru Ilaga Airport in Puncak. The group is alleged to have torched several airport facilities which triggered an exchange of fire with the Air Force's Special Troops Corps Paskhas.

The incident resulted in the torching of tower at the Airport management work unit and the AirNav offices in Ilaga, although there were no causalities in the incident.

Finally, police have accused an armed group of being responsible for the shooting of the family of Nipurlema village chief Petianus Kogoya in Ilaga. (mjo/psp)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Konflik Memanas, OPM Ancam Tembak Mati Pekerja di Papua".]