Hundreds of residents escorted out of besieged Papuan villages
Nethy Dharma Somba
The Jakarta Post
A joint team comprising Indonesian Military and National Police personnel Friday gained control of Banti and Kimbeli, two villages in Tembagapura district in Mimika regency, Papua, that were reportedly occupied by armed separatists for the past three weeks.
Members of Free Papua Movement’s (OPM) National Liberation Army (TPN) reportedly blockaded all roads into the area and prohibited residents from leaving the villages.
Papua Police chief Insp.Gen. Boy Rafli Amar and Cendrawasih Military District Commander Maj. Gen. George E. Supit arrived at Kimbeli and Banti at 11 a.m. local time Friday.
“Thirteen personnel of the Army’s Special Forces [Kopassus], supported by 30 members of the 751st Raider battalion, gained control of Kimbeli village while two teams from the Army Strategic Reserves Command’s [Kostrad] Combat Reconnaissance Platoons [Tontaipur] regained control of Banti village from the separatists,” said Cendrawasih Military District Command spokesperson Lt.Col. M.Aidi.
“Within less than two hours, they managed to take over the two villages and push back the OPM/TPN members. They ran into the forest.”
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. AM Kamal said that during the operation, security personnel rescued 150 people from Kimbeli village and 194 from Longsoran village.
Hundreds of others chose to stay because they are originally from Kimbeli and Banti villages. “They were born and grew up in Kimbeli and Banti so they don’t want to leave. They only asked us to provide security and logistical assistance until the situation in the two villages returns to normal,” said Kamal. (ebf)
Liberated: Military personnel escort hundreds of civilians out of Banti and Kimbeli villages in Tembagapura, Mimika, Papua, on Friday. (Courtesy of the Papua Police/File)
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