Papua, Jubi – A human rights group has reported that tens of thousands of people in Indonesia’s Papua province have been displaced by conflict.
The estimate is the gravest yet in an months-long war between security forces and rebel fighters in Papua.
The group, Front Line Defenders, claims more than 32,000 people have been forced to flee the central highlands regency of Nduga due to military operations.
Rights advocates with the group reported that some civilians had died in refugee camps, where conditions are poor and people lack food and water.
They allege Indonesian security forces shot dead two school children, damaged 34 schools and likely dropped bombs using helicopters in Nduga.
The military, which has been hunting rebel group the West Papua Liberation Army since December, has denied the use of bombs.
Front Line Defenders plan to submit their findings to Indonesia’s human rights commission.
Indonesia’s military has rubbished the reports that thousands have been displaced by the conflict.
A spokesperson for the military, Colonel Mohammed Aidi, said there is no population data for Nduga, implying the information is impossible to verify.
He said security forces have only provided safeguards and social assistance for members of the public.
Since January, Colonel Aidi said six soldiers have died in gunfire exchanges with rebels who have instigated attacks.
He also denied claims dozens of school buildings in Nduga had been damaged by soldiers. (*)