By APD writer Maverick
JAKARTA, Nov. 18 (APD) – Joint operation carried out by Indonesian police and the military’s special force units managed to free hostages who were residents of villages seized by separatist group in Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua.
Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo said that releasing of the hostages was conducted through a silent operation by troops from the armed forces’ special units, continued by evacuation and security restoration carried out by police.
“Collaboration of TNI and Police to free those hostages was a form of responsibility to preserve the unity of the state,” Gatot said in West Java province’s capital of Bandung on Saturday.
Around 200 police and troops were involved in the operation conducted on Friday morning which directly led by Papua police and military Chiefs Boy Rafly Amar and George Enaldus Supit.
More than 340 residents of Kimberly, Banti and Utikini villages in Papua’s Tembagapura district were evacuated to safety by police amid shootout between the troops and the separatist group’ militants.
“The separatist group shot us from hillside around the villages. We responded it by shot at them back,” Boy said on Friday after the operation that lasted in one hour and 18 minutes ended.
The separatist militants have been holding some 1,300 residents of those villages since Thursday last week which they claimed as ‘Papua War’, a form for their retaliation against Indonesian government.
The militants, who claimed themselves as West Papua National Liberation Army, were affiliated with separatist group of Papua Independence Organization (OPM).
They demanded several conditions for Indonesian government to free those hostages.
Among the conditions were a referendum in Papua with international observers, withdrawal of Indonesian troops and police from Papua and closure of Freeport McMoran copper and gold mining in the district.
Indonesia did not respond those demands, instead it silently sent troops from the army’s special units to free the hostages.
Most of those evacuated from the villages were non-Papuan indigenous people. The indigenous Papuans opted to stay in the villages, the places where they born and rose at.
Boy said that police would deploy adequate number of police members to secure those opted to stay in those villages.
The separatist group in Papua has been struggling to separate the mineral-rich easternmost province since it became part of Indonesia’s territory in 1963.
They conducted international diplomacy as well and militancy acts in Papua to reach their target, establishing an independent state in Papua.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)