Indonesian soldiers clash with rebels in Papua, 1 soldier dead

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-13 19:43:29|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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JAKARTA, May 13 (Xinhua) -- One Indonesian soldier was shot dead in counter shootings with a rebel group in the country's eastern Papua province on Monday, Indonesian military said.

The incident took place in Mugi of Nduga district where the construction of 4,600 kilometers Trans-Papua Highway project and 16 bridges is underway, spokesman of military Cendrawasih command Colonel Infantry Muhammad Aidi revealed.

Twelve soldiers were suddenly ambushed by the rebels when they were securing the construction of a bridge, the spokesman said.

The soldiers fought back and opened fire at the rebels positioned at a higher ground. The rebels escaped from the ground, but were chased by the soldiers, bloods were recovered on the ground, suggesting the rebels sustained from injuries, said Aidi.

One of the soldiers was shot at his back and "died during evacuation with a helicopter to a hospital in Timika," he said in a statement.

The armed group was led by Egianus Kogoya, who has masterminded a series of attacks against soldiers and construction workers of the Trans-Papua highway construction, according to the spokesman.

Experts said Kogoya's group is part of the rebel group headed by Kelly Kwalik, who led the Free Papua Movement (OPM) insurgency which has been seeking an independent state through guerrilla wars. Kwalik died in a military crackdown in 2009.

Last month three Indonesian soldiers and 10 rebels were killed when about 70 rebels ambushed 25 soldiers in Nduga district, following the massacre of 17 construction workers by the armed group in December.

The military has recently deployed a total of 600 soldiers, consisting of 150 combat engineers, to help complete the construction work.