Papua, Jubi – At least one Indonesian soldier has reportedly been killed by West Papuan rebels during a prolonged shootout on Monday.
Military spokesperson Colonel Mohammed Aidi said the incident took place in Mugi district, in the conflict-prone Nduga regency.
The Kompas newspaper reported him saying about 20 West Papua Liberation Army gunmen attacked a patrol late Monday morning.
During the shooting, which went on for at least four hours, a soldier died from a gunshot wound before he could be evacuated.
Colonel Aidi said military forces pursued the rebel fighters but they fled into a nearby forest and it was unclear whether any died.
A spokesperson for the Liberation Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Colonel Aidi said the soldiers were securing the construction of the Trans-Papua Highway, a government project often targeted by rebels.
Last December, at least 16 Indonesian construction workers working on part of the road in Nduga were massacred by the Liberation Army, setting off heightened conflicts which have claimed dozens of lives during frequent gun battles.
Rights groups estimate more than 32,000 people in Nduga have been displaced. (*)