Indonesian soldier, 3 'radicals' killed in Papua shoot-outs

January 25, 2014 - 9:11:36 am

JAKARTA: An Indonesian soldier and three armed "radicals" were killed in two related shoot-outs in the country's restive Papua region, an army official said Saturday.

A team of soldiers were conducting a raid in the mountainous Puncak Jaya area, a known hideout for armed Papuan separatists, after receiving intelligence on a "radical group", army spokesman Andika Perkasa said.

The soldiers seized a rifle from the gunmen and three were killed in an extended shoot-out, Perkasa said, adding it was unclear who opened fire first in the incident on Friday.

"The team of soldiers had called for back-up," Perkasa said.

"The reinforcement team of 25 people were then ambushed by gunmen on the way to the site. They killed one soldier in that incident."

Police in Papua province said the gunmen belonged to the separatist Free Papua Movement.

But Perkasa said it was too early to speculate on the gunmen's connections, adding their motivations could be more complex.

Attacks on security forces are common in Papua, where poorly armed militants have for decades fought an insurgency on behalf of the mostly ethnic Melanesian population.

Jakarta keeps a tight grip on the region with a heavy military presence and restricts foreign journalists from reporting freely in the region. (AFP)