Gunfight in Papua’s Titigi claims life of Indonesian soldier

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Commander of the 173 PVB Military Resort Command Brig. Gen. Iwan Setiawan confirmed that an Indonesian soldier died in a gunfight that erupted in the Titigi area of Intan Jaya District, Papua Province, on Sunday.

"The gunfight broke out at around 11:40 a.m. local time. Our fallen soldier was shot on his back," Setiawan informed ANTARA on being contacted from Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province, on Sunday afternoon.

The body of the fallen soldier, identified as Private Agus Kurniawan, was retrieved by an Air Force helicopter to Timika, the capital of Mimika District, he remarked.

Kurniawan was posted at the Titigi military post, some five kilometers from Sugapa, the capital of Intan Jaya District. The Titigi area has a mountainous terrain, he noted.

In the aftermath of the gunfight, the army personnel remain viligant, he remarked, adding that a group of soldiers continue to look for the armed criminals involved in the exchange of fire.

The Indonesian province of Papua has recurrently borne witness to a vicious cycle of violence, with armed Papuan criminal groups in the districts of Intan Jaya and Nduga targeting civilians and security personnel over the past few months.

Intan Jaya recorded its bloodiest month in September 2020, with notorious armed groups launching a series of attacks in the area that claimed the lives of two soldiers and two civilians and injured two others.

The armed Papuan criminals continue their acts of terror. On January 6, 2021, for instance, 10 armed Papuan criminals vandalized and torched a Mission Aviation Fellowship's (MAF's) Quest Kodiak aircraft at the Pagamba Village airstrip.

The notorious armed men, led by Sabinus Waker, set ablaze the utility aircraft not long after American Pilot Alek Luferchek disembarked his two passengers, Commander of the Cenderawasih Military Command Maj. Gen. Ignatius Yogo Triyono remarked.

The torching of the civilian aircraft, with registration number PK-MAX, was a brutal act since MAF planes have, since decades, conducted a noble mission for the Papuan communities, he stated.

Triyono admitted that none of the Indonesian soldiers were present around Pagamba Village in Mbiandoga Sub-district, Intan Jaya District, but rather in Sugapa Sub-district, Triyono pointed out.

In connection with this incident, pilot Luferchek had informed Papuan police officers that his aircraft was torched by some 10 men carrying assault rifles and guns.

The armed men suddenly emerged from some bushes soon after Luferchek landed the plane at the Pagamba Village airstrip at around 9:30 a.m. local time, Papua Police Chief, Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw stated.

Citing Luferchek’s statement, Waterpauw told journalists on Friday (January 8, 2021) that several residents, on spotting the armed men walking towards the aircraft, fled for safety.

The American pilot was reportedly ordered by the armed men to disembark from the utility aircraft. Pointing their rifles and guns at Luferchek, and the men ordered him to sit on the ground, Waterpauw revealed.

Soon thereafter, the men unloaded the aircraft's cargo of food supply and then vandalized and set the plane ablaze, he remarked, adding that the 32-year-old pilot had managed to escape the attackers.

Police in the districts of Nabire and Intan Jaya of Papua Province launched a probe into the torching of the aircraft, operated by MAF, an organization that has been conducting a Christian mission in Papua since 1952.

Source: Antara News

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