JAKARTA: Gunmen shot dead three Indonesian police officers and stole weapons and ammunition during a raid on a police post in Papua, an official said today, the most serious attack on security forces in the insurgency-hit province since 2013.
Another policeman was wounded in the attack yesterday on the post at Sinak, in mountainous Puncak district, Papua police spokesman Patridge Renwarin told AFP.
“A criminal armed group shot dead three police officers who were sitting in a guard post,” he said.
Some ammunition and rifles were stolen in the attack, and it was believed a Papuan working at the police station might have let the assailants into the building, Renwarin said.
He said police and the military were hunting for the assailants, although it was unclear how many were involved.
Police declined to say if a particular group was suspected of carrying out the attack, although suspicion will likely fall on the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which spearheads the remote eastern region’s separatist movement.
The OPM regularly targets security forces in the heavily militarised province, but it is rare for so many personnel to be killed in one attack.
In February 2013, suspected OPM gunmen killed eight soldiers in one of the most serious assaults on security forces in the region’s recent history, but attacks since then have been on a smaller scale.
The latest incident followed the release from prison last month of prominent separatist leader Filep Karma, who pledged to continue to fight for Papuan independence.
A low-level insurgency has simmered for decades in Papua, with the OPM fighting against rule from Jakarta on behalf of the mostly Melanesian population, who are a different ethnicity from most Indonesians.
Jakarta has long kept a tight grip on resource-rich Papua with a heavy military and police presence.