Military operation in Puncak Jaya Regency allegedly causes death of at least five civilians

The ICP has received information from local human rights defenders about a military attack in the highland regency of Puncak Jaya on the 1 October 2018. According to the information, the military reportedly conducted several air-raids with four helicopters against targets in the Tingginambut District. The air-strikes were supported by ground forces. The human rights activists claim that the Indonesian army used explosive projectiles such as grenades and missiles during the air strike. The attack has allegedly caused the death of at least five civilians - among them a pregnant woman and at least two minors - and two members of the armed resistance (TPN-OPM). People in the affected area have fled into the surrounding jungle to seek shelter from the military forces. The human rights activist stated that the actual number of fatalities could be higher, because the figure excludes victims who might have been injured or killed during the attempt to flee into the forest.

The head of XVII Cenderawasih command, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, published a press release which confirmed the military operation. A military patrol had discovered a base camp of local TPN leader Goliath Tabuni and succeeded to force the resistance fighters to abandon the camp and retreat into the jungle. According to Colonel Aidi, his men seized a firearm, ammunition, mobile phones, a camera, a morning star flag and various documents.

Human rights activists suspect the operation could be part of a widespread attack against the TPN-OPM in the central highlands. The deployment of additional military troops from the 1753 Alvita Nabire Batalyon to the highland town of Enarotali in Paniai Regency was already reported on 30 September 2018. The troops reportedly launched military exercises on 1 October 2018. The deployment and military exercise appear to be part of a forthcoming military operation against TPN forces in Paniai.