Mimika, Papua, Indonesia
|Member of the security rescue team take a child to safety (photo courtesy of Papua Police)|
After more than a week held hostage by a group of armed individuals linked with West Papua separatist, hundreds of people were rescued by combined police and army security team last Friday (17/11).
Just after 4am on Friday, a combined security team consisting of 43 members entered Kimbely Village with the aim of securing and holding the village. At about the same time, another team secured and held Banti Village.
At 7am, the security forces secured the villages and in the next two hours successfully secured the stronghold of the armed group.
It was reported that members of the armed group fled from the villages into the bushes and nearby hills.
|Member of the armed separatist group pose with an automatic weapon (Photo: Facebook)|
A political pundit, Veronica Koman disputed the account, saying that the armed group never held the villagers hostage and that the group would never harm their own brothers and sisters.
Ms Koman's comments are a stark contrast to the facts on the ground.
Many of the more than 350 people rescued , mostly daily commuters resident of other parts of the area, recounted their ordeal to the local press and authorities:
"All of our belongings including cash, mobile phones, bags and other things were taken from us. They [the armed group] pointed their guns at us and forced us to surrender our things."
Some even lost more than their possessions:
"I saw women being dragged away by members of the armed group. The women screamed and kicked to no avail. The armed people took the women to a house. I heard the group raped the women repeatedly."
Ms Koman, a self-proclaimed human rights lawyer who claims to have "extensive working experience in the UN Human Rights Council", also disputed the fact that the armed group used arms and force in the hostage crisis.
Her statement was made despite the fact that the armed separatist group, under the direction of Benny Wenda and other executives of the separatist mob that since 2014 are grouped in the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) is known to have employed brutal tactics in the past.
In December 1996, the Papuan separatist group abducted 26 person in Mapenduma. Fifteen were released, but 11 researchers from the multi-national Lorentz 95 Expedition were held captive. The hostages, four Britons, five Indonesians and two Dutch were held hostage for four months from 8 January to 15 May 1996.
|The Mapenduma hostages, Papua, 1996|
The ICRC reported:
Among the hostages was Martha Klein, who was three months pregnant when she was captured.
In a daring and surprising raid, Indonesian special forces freed the hostages. Two Indonesians were killed during the operation: Matheis Lasembu, an ornithologist and Navy Panekenan, a biologist. Five Army officers were killed when their helicopted crashed in jungle of Geselama, Papua.
The two hostages bled to death after being struck with machetes by Kelly Kwalik, the leader of the hostage-takers and a close confidant of Benny Wenda.
Kelly Kwalik, died in 2009 in a gunfight with security authorities.
|Benny Wenda (left) and Kelly Kwalik (right)|
As reported by the Associated Press and the Seattle Times, on 23 October 2017, armed West Papua separatist group killed Berry Pratama a police sergeant in Sangket, Papua.
In the attack, Joe Hatch, an American worker for Freeport suffered a gunshot wound.
Sources reveal that Benny Wenda, the leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was behind the unprovoked and barbarous attacks.
|Sources reveal that Benny Wenda and the ULMWP command armed separatist group in West Papua|
“Five kiosks owned by local people in Kampung Utikini were set ablaze by an armed group at 2 a.m. on Sunday,” Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Cmr. Victor D Mackbon told journalists on Sunday.
No casualties were reported in this latest incident.
|Five shops were set ablaze only about 100 meters from a Police dormitory in West Papua (photo courtesy of Papua Police)|
This latest attack comes after a kidnapping and raping of a West Papuan woman on 30 October 2017.