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Police say 10 killed in gun battle with Papua rebels

 Police say 10 killed in gun battle with Papua rebels Police in Papua say 10 people killed in a gun fight between security officials and rebels. (JP/Hengky Wijaya)
AFP
Jakarta   ●   Wed, April 28, 2021 2021-04-28 17:45 14 0920e6703081f028872405a526418d88 2 National Papua,escalating-conflict,military,TNI,police Free

At least 10 people were killed in a gun battle between police and rebels in Papua, authorities said, in an apparent retaliation for the execution of a local intelligence chief.

The hours-long shootout Tuesday in remote Puncak district ended with nine guerrillas and a police officer dead, while two more officers were wounded, police said.

"We ambushed the area after confirming their whereabouts," Papua police spokesman Sr. Comr. Ahmad Musthofa Kamal told AFP on Wednesday.

Police said they believed the dozens-strong rebel faction was responsible for the Sunday slaying of Brig. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, who headed Papua's intelligence agency. 

But rebel group spokesman Sebby Sambom dismissed the report of rebels being killed as a 'big lie' and 'propaganda'.

AFP could not independently verify the claim by security forces. 

Conflicting reports are common in Papua, where a low-level insurgency has simmered for decades.

The spike in tensions comes after Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo this week ordered security forces to pursue rebels for the general's death.  

Papuan separatists have claimed responsiblity for his killing.

Security forces have for years been dogged by allegations of widespread rights abuses against Papua's indigenous population including extrajudicial killings of activists and peaceful protesters in their efforts to crush the rebel groups.

In recent weeks, security forces ramped up military operations in Puncak district after rebel groups killed soldiers and teachers, torching several schools and a helicopter.