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Police deploy to Papua village after hostage taking

by mnews
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Police in Papua will deploy to a village where 15 people were reportedly taken hostage by the West Papua Liberation Army and later released.

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia's military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua's Highlands.

Members of the West Papua Liberation Army Photo: RNZ

Local media report the group of school teachers and medical workers were held as hostages in Nduga district for two weeks earlier this month.

Antara News reports all 15 civilians held in Mapenduma village were released on October 17 and flown out of Nduga.

One female teacher was reportedly raped by members of the armed group and hospitalised after her release.

Akouboo Amatus Douw, a Liberation Army spokesperson, said reports of hostage taking and rape were false.

He said the Liberation Army held a meeting in Mapenduma earlier this month where teachers and medical workers suspected of working for the Indonesian military were “kept quiet”.

Mr Douw said this was only for a few hours and denied it amounted to hostage taking.

Around 100 school children in Mapenduma could no longer access education after the incident, said Papua police chief Inspector General Martuani Sormin.

The Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, said teachers working in Papua should have an understanding of the culture there.

“Don’t just send the teacher carelessly, eventually it will be like this,” he said on Friday in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

Mr Enembe said there were no witnesses to the alleged rape and reports around it were unclear.

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