A spokesperson for the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) Cendrawasih Military Command, Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi, denied reports that a joint team of military and police personnel involved in a rescue mission to save victims of recent mass shootings in Nduga, Papua, had carried explosives or fired guns during the process.
“It’s fake news,” he said on Sunday as quoted by tempo.co. He said the helicopter utilized to carry dead bodies on Dec. 2 was a logistics carrier. “It was not an assault vehicle. So how could we use bombs?” he said.
Tabloidjubi.com reported that four civilians were shot dead when security personnel tried to retrieve the bodies of construction workers of state-owned company PT Istaka Karya that had been shot by an armed group linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
Samuel Tabuni, a youth leader, said his relatives were shot by the security personnel. “Two in Mbua, Two in Yigi. They were shot during the rescue process,” said Samuel as quoted by tabloidjubi.com.
After rescuing victims and civilians, the joint security team is still looking five construction workers who remain missing.
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ahmad Kamal said PT Istaka Karya recorded 28 workers in the camp in Yigi district, where the killings took place. At least 16 died during the attack by the armed group that was led by Egianus Kogoya. Among the casualties was an employee of the Papua road project.
Seven workers were found alive, three of whom are injured and receiving treatment at Caritas Timika Hospital. A member of the police’s Mobile Brigade is also being treated at the hospital for injuries.