Military operation in Puncak causes internal displacement - Jakarta continues deployment of additional troops

Joint security faces have launched a massive military operation in the Puncak Regency, Papua Province, on 27 April 2021. The operation followed the killing of the Papuan intelligence chief and the subsequent speech by President Joko Widodo, in which he gave the order to the national police and the military to find and arrest all members of armed criminal groups in West Papua. The security force operation caused villagers from four districts in Puncak to flee their homes and seek shelter in nearby churches. Meanwhile, the Indonesian military is deploying additional troops to conflict hot spots in the Papuan central highlands. The armed conflict in the regencies Puncak and Intan Jaya is believed to intensify in the coming weeks. Human rights groups fear further human rights violations in the combat areas.

According to local informants, the military used three helicopters during the operation. A recording uploaded on social media shows soldiers firing an automatic rifle from a chopper during the raid (see photo). Hundreds of residents from 19 villages in the districts Ilaga (Villages Tagaloa, Wuloni & Tuwunikime), Ilaga Utara (Villages Maki, Akonobak, Paluga, Palumbur, Olenki, Duagi & Mayuberi), Gome (Villages Upaga, Efesus, Tegelobak & Misimaga) and Gome Utara (Villages Tobenggi I, Tobenggi II, Mundidok I, Mundidok II & Welenggaru) reportedly fled their homes and hid in nearby churches. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the districts Ilaga Utara and Ilaga fled to the Puncak’s largest town Kimak and the villages Kimak, Kago 1, Kago 2, Wilembur and Jenggerbaga, while IDPs from Gome and Gome Utara sought shelter in the town of Gome and the Tanah Merah Village. The total number of IDPs in Puncak is currently not known.


The Indonesian military is deploying additional non-organic troops to the Papuan central highlands to fight the TPN PB. National media sources reported that more than 400 soldiers of KODAM XIII Merdeka military command will be deployed from North Sulawesi to the Nduga Regency, where they will serve for nine months. Four hundred soldiers belonging to the 521 Military Battalion in East Java will be deployed to Paniai, Dogoyai, Deiyai, Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, and Puncak mid-May 2021. On 14 April 2021, 450 combatants of the Raider 316 Raja Alam infantry battalion already left for West Papua. They will guard the border to Papua New Guinea and serve in the regency Puncak Jaya.