Jayapura, Indonesia—On Saturday, Indonesian security forces recovered the bodies of four construction workers killed in a separatist attack in West Papua province, police said.
West Papua Police spokesperson Adam Elwindi said four men were killed when gunmen stormed a government road construction project in the remote village of Meyalga in the Bintuni Bay district late Thursday. .
Five workers, including one injured in the attack, fled to a nearby garrison while the other three hid in the jungle. The lone female worker managed to escape and she remains missing, Elwindi said.
He said the bodies were guarded by gunmen until security forces discovered them on Saturday. Erwindi said two of his bodies were charred near two heavy equipment and three trucks set on fire by the attackers, and two of his had gunshot wounds and stab wounds.
“We believe this attack was launched by an armed separatist criminal group amid stepped-up efforts by the government,” Erwindi said. He said police and the military are searching for the attackers. Authorities believe they belong to the West Papua Liberation Army, the military arm of the Free Papua Organization.
The victims were among the dozens of construction workers hired by a local construction company to build a road connecting Bintuni Bay and Mybrat district.
Rebel spokesman Sevi Sambon confirmed that fighters from the group carried out Thursday’s attack. He said the group had warned all workers to quit the Indonesian government’s project. rice field.
He said the workers are considered outsiders by the separatists and are part of Indonesia’s intelligence services.
Papua is a former Dutch colony in western New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from most of Indonesia. Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common.
Papua was incorporated into Indonesia after a 1969 UN-sponsored vote was widely viewed as a sham. Since then, low-level insurgency has raged in the region, which is divided into her two provinces of Papua and West Papua.
In March, rebel gunmen killed eight technicians repairing a remote communications tower. In December 2018, at least 31 construction workers and his one soldier were killed in one of his worst attacks in the state.
Attacks have surged in the past year, killing dozens of rebels, security forces and civilians.