Papua intelligence chief killed in Indonesia rebel attack

General I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, who headed Papua's intelligence agency, was killed during a shootout on April 25, 2021. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA (AFP) - An Indonesian regional intelligence chief was killed in an ambush by rebels in the restive Papua region, the military confirmed on Monday (April 26) as the country's president vowed to crush the separatists.

General I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, who headed Papua's intelligence agency, was shot dead during a shootout after rebels opened fire at a patrolling security forces unit in the Papuan highlands on Sunday.

"He was in the area as part of the operation to restore security and to boost the morale of locals in the region following a series of attacks by separatist and terrorist groups," National Intelligence Agency spokesman Wawan Purwanto told Agence France-Prese.

Security forces have been ramping up the military operation in the remote Puncak district after rebel groups killed soldiers and teachers, torching several schools and a helicopter in recent weeks.

President Joko Widodo said on Monday he had ordered the police and military "to chase and arrest" all members of the rebel groups in the remote eastern province.

"I want to emphasise again that there is no place for armed groups in Papua," Mr Widodo said.

Papua rebel spokesman Sebby Sambon claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that there were no casualties on his side.

"We also shot at other soldiers but we missed them," Mr Sambon told AFP.

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

Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea just north of Australia.

A former Dutch colony, Papua declared itself independent in 1961, but neighbouring Indonesia took control of the region two years later with the promise of holding an independence referendum.

The subsequent vote in favour of staying as part of Indonesia was widely considered a sham.

Jakarta keeps a tight grip on the resource-rich region, which experiences recurring spasms of violence.

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