Police seek gunmen behind ambulance shooting in Papua

JAKARTA - The Papua Police have launched an investigation to identify the group of gunmen behind an attack on passengers in an ambulance in the restive Papua regency of Puncak Jaya on Wednesday that killed one and injured two others.

“Our officers in Puncak Jaya are still trailing the perpetrators. We are still waiting for a follow-up from them,” National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said on Thursday in Jakarta.

The ambulance carrying 11 passengers was en route from Tingginambut to Mulia General Hospital in Mulia subdistrict, Puncak Jaya, when the armed group opened fire.

The bullets hit three people sitting in the front seats, while eight others were uninjured. The incident killed passenger Heri Yoman and injured two medical officers, Darson Wonda and Frits Baranzano.

“Heri Yoman, 32, was killed due to bullet wounds to his right cheek and the left side of his ribs. Darson, 27, was hit by a bullet in his left arm, while Frits Baranzano sustained bullet wounds to his ribs and right arm,” Agus said.

Separately, Cenderawasih Military Command spokesman Col. Lismer Luman Siantar said that the three victims were rushed to Mulia General Hospital.

Meanwhile, Agus said that the injured victims were undergoing operations at Jayapura Hospital to remove bullets. He added that the remains of Heri had been buried in Puncak Jaya.

Papua, particularly Puncak Jaya district, is prone to shooting incidents, mostly targeting authorities and civilians.

On July 12, Muhammad Saleh, a motorcycle taxi driver, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in Wandegobak village, Puncak Jaya, Papua.

On June 25, two people, identified as Second Lieut. I Wayan Sukarta of the Nabire Infantry Battalion, and a public minibus driver, Tono, were killed by unidentified gunmen in Jigonikme village, Ilu district, also in Puncak Jaya Regency.

Many have suspected that armed separatists from the Free Papua Merdeka (OPM) movement, which have been active in Papua and West Papua for decades, perpetrated the attacks.

On February 21, two separate shootings in Puncak Jaya claimed the lives of eight soldiers. The government suspected that Goliat Tabuni, the commander of Papua Liberation Army Front (TPN), had orchestrated the attack.

The TPN was part of the Free Papua Merdeka (OPM) movement.

In May, Papuans living in exile set up an OPM office in Oxford, England, as part their 44-year campaign to separate the former Dutch colony from Indonesia. This has prompted the Indonesian government to file a diplomatic protest against the British government. [JakartaPost]
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