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3 rebels, 1 soldier killed in Indonesia’s Papua

January 24, 2014

JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian forces exchanged gunfire with suspected rebels on Friday, leaving at least three guerrillas and a soldier dead in the latest violence in restive Papua province, the army said.

The clash broke out when about 25 soldiers and police were launching a security operation in the separatist stronghold of Puncak Jaya, army spokesman Brig. Gen. Andika Perkasa said.

He said a soldier and three rebels were killed during the shootout.

A rebel spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Friday’s fighting was the latest violence in the province, where a giant U.S.-owned mine run by Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., is located. The Papua chapter of the National Commission for Human Rights says more than 50 people, including nine soldiers, were killed last year in several clashes.

The low-level insurgency for an independent Papua has continued since the region was transferred from Dutch to Indonesian rule in the 1960s. West Papua was taken over through a stage-managed vote by community leaders called the “Act of Free Choice,” which has been widely dismissed by international scholars as a sham.

Since then, about 100,000 Papuans — the equivalent of a sixth of the current population — have died in military operations in the resource-rich mountain area.

The Indonesian government does not allow foreign media to freely report in Papua, where it has tens of thousands of troops. The site of Friday’s clash was inaccessible to local reporters.

Update hourly