Four people have been shot and killed by an armed rebel group in Indonesia’s restive West Papua province, the latest in a string of attacks on civilians, police say.
The West Papua National Liberation Army, which the government has designated as a terrorist organisation, said its members on Thursday night shot people they believed were Indonesian intelligence personnel disguised as road construction workers.
“Our troops succeeded in shooting dead four Indonesian intelligence officers disguised as workers,” Sebby Sambom, a spokesperson for the rebel group said in a statement, adding that the victims’ bodies were still being held by the group.
He did not provide evidence to substantiate the claim that the victims were intelligence officers.
Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua have seen a long-simmering independence movement, which has intensified in recent years. The Indonesian military maintains a heavy presence in the impoverished region, and has been accused by activist groups of human rights abuses, which it denies.
West Papua’s police spokesperson, Adam Erwindi, said a total of 12 road construction workers had been shot, but added that an investigation had been launched into whether the deceased were in fact civilians or military personnel.
A military spokesperson in West Papua declined to comment on the attack.
The rebel group, which is the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, also killed nine civilians in July, and eight telecommunications technicians in March, according to police.