The Jakarta Post
Four workers of state-owned construction company PT Istaka Karya are still missing after an attack nearly two weeks ago led by an armed group with ties to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) in Nduga regency, Papua, a senior minister has said.
Authorities have so far recovered the bodies of 17 victims who were killed in the attack, while another four workers were found alive, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto told a press conference on Tuesday.
A joint police-military task force is still searching for the remaining four missing workers, who, according to survivors’ accounts, had been able to escape but suffered from stab wounds, he said.
"We hope that we will be able to find [the four] alive because they are actually our [infrastructure] development heroes," Wiranto said on Tuesday.
The 25 victims, who were kidnapped by rebels from the Istaka Karya camp in Nduga on Dec. 1, had been working on the construction of a 275-kilometer stretch of road connecting Wamena and Mamugu as part of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s flagship trans-Papua highway project.
In the meantime, security forces have continued their hunt for a National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) faction led by Egianus Kogoya that had claimed responsibility for the deaths of the construction workers and one Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier.
The TPNPB, however, claimed that the workers were not civilians, but members of the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers (ZIPUR).
"The enemy [TPNPB], who attempted to retaliate, have escaped and the authorities are still making an effort to run after them," Wiranto said, "They have spread propaganda to scare people [...] They have committed inhumane crimes and we must fight against them."