Indonesian soldiers kill Papuan separatist

Members of the Indonesian navy’s marine patrol unit demonstrate their skills during a recent simulated anti-terror exercise in East Java. (AFP)
Updated 02 December 2019

Indonesian soldiers kill Papuan separatist

  • Exchange of fire followed attack on army helicopter in restive province

JAKARTA: Indonesian soldiers shot dead a separatist rebel in the restive province of Papua after an attack on an army helicopter that sparked an exchange of gunfire, the military said on Saturday.

Security has been heightened across the province, where a sporadic, low-level insurgency has simmered for decades.

Local military spokesman Dax Sianturi told Arab News that separatist rebels missed the helicopter, which had five people on board.

But the attack forced the helicopter, which was about to land at an airfield in the Mugi district in Nduga regency, to return to its base in Mimika regency, he said.

“The soldiers who were guarding the landing site were involved in a 15-minute exchange of gunfire,” he said, adding that there were no army casualties.

The military said the attackers are linked to the separatist Free Papua Organization, which has been behind a series of shootings targeting security forces in the region.

Last December, separatist gunmen in Nduga killed 19 construction workers who were building bridges as part of the Trans-Papua Highway, one of President Joko Widodo’s flagship infrastructure projects.

FASTFACTS

• Papua, the western part of the island of New Guinea, declared itself independent from Dutch colonial rule on Dec. 1, 1961.

• Indonesia officially took over the region in 1969 after a UN-backed ballot widely seen as a sham.

• Indonesia keeps a tight grip on resource-rich Papua, which is one of the country’s poorest regions.

Papua police chief Paulus Waterpauw said his office had deployed 3,000 personnel to intensify patrols, including in mountainous strongholds of separatist groups.

Pro-independence leader Markus Haluk told Arab News that his group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, had called for “recovery prayers” on Dec. 1, citing dozens of deaths from recent unrest in the region.

Mass protests and unrest between August and September led to the killing of more than 30 people and renewed calls for an independence referendum.

“We’ll be pressing ahead with fighting for our right to self-determination through a referendum for Papuan independence,” said Haluk.

Papua, the western part of the island of New Guinea, declared itself independent from Dutch colonial rule on Dec. 1, 1961.

But Indonesia officially took over the region in 1969 after a UN-backed ballot widely seen as a sham.

Jakarta keeps a tight grip on resource-rich Papua, which is one of the country’s poorest regions.


Malaysia to work with UNICEF on polio vaccination in Sabah state

Updated 19 min 42 sec ago

Malaysia to work with UNICEF on polio vaccination in Sabah state

  • An infant was diagnosed with polio a few days ago for the first time since 1992
  • Authorities said the polio strain shared genetic links with the virus detected earlier in the Philippines

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s health authorities on Sunday said they are working with UNICEF to bring polio vaccines to the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, where the country’s first polio case in nearly three decades was detected last week.
A three-month-old infant was diagnosed with polio on Dec. 6 after being admitted to hospital with a fever and muscle weakness, the first such case since 1992.
It comes after the Philippines, north of Borneo, reported its first cases of polio since 1993 in September.
Malaysia’s health ministry had said the child was infected with a polio strain that shared genetic links with the virus detected in the Philippines.
“We are planning to work with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, to get vaccine supply at a low cost for an immunization program for non-citizen children in Sabah,” Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.
Noor Hisham said the plan is to have UNICEF subsidize the cost of the vaccines, and to administer the vaccinations with the help of selected non-governmental organizations and the Philippines government.
No new cases have been detected so far, though authorities are still waiting for the results of stool samples taken from people who had close contact with the infant and the surrounding area where the child lived, Noor Hisham said.
“The health ministry would like to stress that the best way to eradicate polio is through immunization. Contagious diseases such as polio know no boundaries,” Noor Hisham said.

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