"I have repeatedly stated that the TNI and National Police will not be withdrawn from Papua because, once, they are pulled out, Papua will secede," he told journalists after speaking at a seminar on a state defense strategy for young Indonesians here Thursday.
Commenting on an exchange of fire that occurred in Olenki Village, Mabugi Subdistrict, Puncak District, on September 17 and killed three civilians, he said Papua's problems should be resolved properly, and they are merely related to social welfare.
"So, we need to sit together. Let us sit and think about how to resolve the problems," the former army chief of staff said.
In connection with the firing in Olenki village between Indonesian troops and brutal armed Papuan separatists, Puncak District Head Willem Wandik said Wednesday that the armed rebels often use villagers as human shields.
Three civilians were killed and four others sustained injuries in the firing. The wounded had been evacuated to Timika's public hospital while the dead would immediately be buried, he said.
To avoid civilian casualties in the future, he appealed to the TNI and police to carry out a persuasive approach which would compel the rebels to surrender and stop attacking security personnel and civilians.
Willem Wandik also urged all parties to maintain peace and end the conflict that could be used by others for their political ends.
Meanwhile, Spokesman of the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command Lt. Col. Eko Daryanto confirmed that there had been civilian casualties and expressed his condolences.
XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Commander Major General Herman Asaribab would coordinate with the Papua police chief in setting up a joint team to investigate the incident, he said.
Herman Asaribab would also conduct a comprehensive evaluation on how the operation to hunt down the armed rebels is to be carried out so that further civilian casualties are avoided, he said. (INE)
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