Three soldiers killed in clashes with separatist rebels in West Papua, Indonesian military say

Rebel spokesman Sebby Sambom.@WPNewsOrg

SBSNews, Westpapuanews.Org — West Papua Liberation Army rebels say they have attacked a military post in Indonesia’s province of Papua, with officials saying three soldiers were killed.

Separatist gunmen have opened fire on a military post in Indonesia’s restive easternmost province of Papua, killing three soldiers and critically wounding another, according to the army and the rebels.

Attackers from the West Papua Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Organisation, carried out the assault at dawn during a change of guard in the hilly district of Puncak, a stronghold of separatists who have battled Indonesian rule in the mineral-rich but impoverished region since the early 1960s.

Military spokesman Colonel Aqsha Erlangga said the gunmen fled into the jungle after soldiers returned fire.The rebels launched a second attack while troops were moving out a wounded soldier who later died on the way to a clinic, he said.

Rebel spokesman Sebby Sambom, in a statement sent to the Associated Press, confirmed the group’s fighters carried out the attack which he said lasted over four hours.He said there were no deaths on the rebel side.

“This is part of our struggle for independence,” Mr Sambom said.

“Our leaders have called on all fighters in our 34 defence regions to continue the war throughout the land of Papua.”

The shootout is the latest in a series of violent incidents in recent years in Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common.■

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