‘Kill or be killed’ says rebel group behind Papua massacre

Indonesian military soldiers prepare to board a helicopter from Wamena in Papua province on December 5, 2018 to retrieve the bodies of the construction workers killed in Nduga. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2018
0

‘Kill or be killed’ says rebel group behind Papua massacre

TIMIKA: Construction workers massacred at a remote jungle work camp in Papua were legitimate military targets, a rebel group said Friday, as authorities hunted for more bodies after the grisly weekend attack which killed at least 16.
The National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) has claimed responsiblity for the deadliest bout of violence in years to hit Papua, an Indonesian-controlled region wracked by a low-level independence insurgency.
“(We killed them) because they were members of the Indonesian military in disguise. They’re our enemy,” Sebby Sambom, spokesman for the TPNPB, told AFP.
“This is war. It’s kill or be killed,” he added.
The rebel group said this week it had killed two dozen people working for a state-owned contractor, while Indonesia’s military has confirmed 16 dead and said at least three more company workers were unaccounted for.
An earlier eyewitness account supplied by the military described execution-style shootings and rebels slitting the throats of workers who tried to escape.
On Friday, the military said most of the victims’ hands were tied together with some suffering gunshot or knife wounds and blunt-force injuries. One worker was almost decapitated.
Authorities said they were scouring the jungle in search of more victims and the suspects, who could number as many as 50.
“There are around 40 to 50 of them scattered around various places,” Papua military spokesman Dax Sianturi told AFP.
“They have the support of locals.”
The contractor’s employees were helping build bridges and roads to boost infrastructure in the impoverished region.
Some in Papua view Indonesia as a colonial occupier and its building work as a way to exert more control over the resource-rich island region which shares a border with Papua New Guinea (PNG), just north of Australia.
“We want to be like PNG — independent,” the rebel spokesman said.
The attack on Sunday came as about 500 activists were arrested in a nationwide police crackdown that coincided with rallies on December 1, a date many Papuans consider their anniversary of independence from Dutch colonialists.
Papua declared itself independent on that date in 1961, but neighboring Indonesia took control of the region two years later on the condition it hold an independence referendum.
Jakarta annexed Papua in 1969 with a UN-backed vote that was widely seen as a sham.
Papua experienced several spasms of violence this summer including the killing of three local people, allegedly by rebels.
While construction workers have been targeted in the past, much of the violence has involved skirmishes between rebels and Indonesian security forces.
Some fighting has been centered around a huge gold and copper mine operated by US-based firm Freeport McMoRan — a frequent flashpoint in the local struggle for independence and a bigger share of the region’s resources.


Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

Updated 15 December 2018
0

Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

  • May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop”

LONDON: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the British parliament could back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal if lawmakers received assurances from the European Union, but warned that a no deal Brexit was still on the table.
May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop,” an insurance policy designed to avoid any hard land border for Ireland but which critics say could bind Britain to EU rules indefinitely.
“When the dust has settled, the only way we’re going to get this through the House of Commons ... is to have a version of the deal that the government has negotiated,” Hunt told BBC radio.
Following a summit in Brussels on Friday, May said it was possible that the EU could give further guarantees that the backstop would be temporary although the bloc’s other 27 leaders told her they would not renegotiate the treaty.
Hunt said the EU was likely to make concessions to avoid Britain leaving without any deal, a scenario that both sides say would be highly damaging for business and their economies.
“The EU cannot be sure that if they choose not to be helpful and flexible ... that we would not end up with no deal,” Hunt said. “We cannot in these negotiations take no deal off the table. I don’t think the EU could be remotely sure that if we don’t find a way through this we wouldn’t end up with no deal.”
The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that most of May’s senior ministerial team thought her deal was dead and were discussing a range of options including a second referendum.
“Brexit is in danger of getting stuck – and that is something that should worry us all,” pensions minister Amber Rudd wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.
“If MPs (lawmakers) dig in against the Prime Minister’s deal and then hunker down in their different corners, none with a majority, the country will face serious trouble.”