Details of an armed ambush that killed 10 people in Papua’s Puncak Jaya district were revealed after a survivor told his version of being attacked.
Police had reported that an armed group ambushed military convoys at two locations in the restive district, killing eight soldiers. A military helicopter managed to evacuate the dead and survivors of the attack to the Papuan capital,Jayapura.
On Sunday, one survivor recounted that there was one attack and said that only seven soldiers were killed while three more were injured but survived. The survivor also said that three civilians were killed in the incident.
Johanes Johni, the civilian who survived the attack, said that he was in a military convoy consisting of 10 soldiers and four civilians who were working at a community health clinic in the Peak District’s Sinak. The convoy was travelling from Sinak to an airstrip two kilometers away.
Johanes said his convoy was attacked on three sides.
“The first was some shots fired from the front. Everyone immediately took cover on the ground, then there were shots from the mountains. Next thing you know there were people with machetes attacking us,” he said at Dian Harapan Hospital in Waena, Jayapura, where he was being treated.
Johanes said the soldiers were wearing civilian clothes and were not carrying their weapons at the time.
“Because they were not carrying weapons, the soldiers could not fight back. They just ducked down while bullets showered down on us,” he said.
“The attackers were not all men. There were also women and children, but most of them are men. They came with machetes and arrows.”
Johanes said that amid the chaos he tried to run but was slashed in his right arm before leaping into a ravine and got stuck at the row of trees below. “The three soldiers who survived were also spared for jumping into the ravine,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Christian Zebua, commander of the Cendrawasih Military Command that oversees operations in Papua, said two platoons have been deployed to pursue the attackers.
He identified them to be members of the local chapter of the armed rebel group the Free Papua Movement, led by guerilla leader Goliat Tabuni.
“Two members of the Goliat Tabuni gang have been shot dead and several others were injured as we conducted a pursuit at the Gunung Lima Jari area in Tingginambut [subdistrict],” the three-star general said.