Further armed clashes cause more internal displacement in Puncak Regency

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Local informants in the Puncak Regency have confirmed further armed clashes between Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). The firefights occurred near Puncak’s largest town Kimak, in the Ilaga District. Around 7.00 PM, TPN PB fighters reportedly attacked the district police headquarters in Kimak. According to the media outlet Jubi, two police officers were injured during the clashes. People living in the surrounding villages fled their homes in the early morning hours of the following day.

People living in the villages Kimak, Tagaloa, Wuloni, and Jenggerpaga in the Ilaga District reportedly fled to the neighbouring Omukia District. Some internally displaced persons (IDPs) sought shelter at the regent’s office in the centre of Kimak and have allegedly received first humanitarian aid supplied by the local Government in Puncak. Previously, many IDPs in Puncak had fled to the regencies Mimika and Puncak Jaya to avoid the armed clashes. The total number of IDPs from the Puncak Regency is currently not known yet.

According to local informants, aeroplanes and helicopters brought many security force members to Ilaga on 1 and 2 May 2021. They also stated that Indonesian security forces burnt multiple traditional houses in the villages Amungi, Toegi, Olenki and a subsidiary health centre (Puskesmas Pembantu) in Mayuberi Village in the Ilaga Utara District.

The Head of the Papua Regional Police Public Relations Department (Kabid Humas Polda Papua), Ahmad Mustofa Kamal, claimed in an interview on 4 May 2021 that the TPN PB damaged parts of the infrastructure and burnt public facilities in the districts Ilaga and Ilaga Utara, including the teacher accommodations and the school building in Mayuberi.

Background

Joint security faces have launched a massive military operation (see photo) 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, who 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.