September 24, 2020, 08.27 PM

KOMPAS.com – A number of Indonesian airlines have expressed reservations to move military and police personnel to the Papuan Regency of Intan Jaya, as tensions continue to run high in the area.

“The airlines expressed their wariness of flying military and police to Sugapa [Intan Jaya’s main administrative center], because armed criminal groups [KKB] would shoot the planes,” said Papua Regional Police chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw on September 22.

“Their aircrew have conveyed their reservations to us. We understand their concerns.” Paulus added that the military and police will consolidate their strength at Sugapa before heading to the Hipadipa district and other parts of Intan Jaya.

Also read: Armed Group Attacks Government Office, Public Market in Indonesia's Papua

“We need to reinforce Sugapa, as it is on a vital road network. We will continue to make the most of our facilities to transport troops [through Intan Jaya].”

Paulus noted that at least five armed groups that were near the mining town of Timika have converged on Intan Jaya, rendering the area a combat zone since September 14. The authorities claimed the groups killed at least six people.

The dead included three Army soldiers, a motor taxi driver, and Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, a member of the Moni tribe who translated the Bible into the Moni language.

Also read: Man Killed in Attack by Unidentified Men in Indonesia's Province of Papua

Yeremia’s death on September 19 in Hitadipa was particularly problematic for the Indonesian armed forces.

“The KKB accused the armed forces of killing [Pastor Yeremia] in a concerted smear campaign on social media,” said Indonesian military spokesman Colonel IGN Suriastawa. “In fact, they carried out the murder themselves to gain worldwide attention to their cause before the United Nations General Assembly September 22-29.”

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