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3 dead as Indonesian forces pursue rebel commander in Papua

November 9, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Authorities and a rebel leader say two pro-independence fighters and a third person have been killed during a week of gunbattles in Indonesia’s troubled Papua region.

A police and military operation is trying to capture Purom Wenda, a West Papua Liberation Army commander who authorities say is a petty criminal who joined independence fighters and later formed his own more radical splinter group.

Wenda, in a statement conveyed via an activist Friday, says two of his fighters were killed in a shootout with paramilitary police and soldiers after his group shot dead a motorbike taxi driver they believed was spying for security forces. The military says he was an innocent villager.

An insurgency has simmered in Papua since it became part of Indonesia more than half a century ago.

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