Three Indonesian soldiers were killed Thursday in a gunbattle with Papuan independence fighters, the military said, adding to more than two dozen deaths in the conflict since November.
The military spokesman for Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region, Muhammad Aidi, said a force of 50-70 rebels armed with military-grade weapons as well as spears and arrows attacked a group of 25 soldiers in a battle lasting several hours.
The jungled highlands district was the location of a December attack by Papuan fighters on workers at a construction site for the trans Papua highway that killed 19. Large numbers of people have been displaced by military and police security operations since the Dec. 2 attack.
At least 31 people have died since early November in an apparent escalation of attacks by the West Papua National Liberation Army. The figure doesn’t include unconfirmed civilian deaths that Papuan activists say resulted from security operations following the Dec. 2 attack.