Two members of an investigative team sent to Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua were shot and wounded during a fact-finding mission related to recent shootings in the area, the government said on Saturday.
The team was sent to Papua’s Intan Jaya district to investigate a number of shootings last month that killed at least four military officers and civilians, including a Christian pastor.
Two members of the team, a researcher from an Indonesian university and a soldier, were shot on Friday and have been evacuated to the capital Jakarta to receive treatment, Indonesia’s security coordinating ministry said in a statement.
The Indonesian military said on its Twitter page late on Friday that the team was attacked by an armed, criminal separatist group.
“The team is currently evaluating all ongoing activities, and especially considering safety and security factors,” while maintaining “the mission of obtaining clear information about this case,” Sugeng Purnomo, a senior official at the coordinating ministry, said in the statement.
Papua has been plagued by long-running separatist tensions since the former Dutch colony was incorporated into Indonesia after a U.N.-backed 1969 referendum called the Act of Free Choice, which has been widely criticised by human rights groups.
Sebby Sembom, a spokesman for the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB-OPM), said in a video statement said the group rejects the fact-finding team formed by Jakarta and instead requested a team from the United Nations.
“The troops of the TPNPB-OPM will not negotiate. We are ready to attack the team formed by Indonesia,” he said.