Nine separatist rebels and a policeman were killed in armed clashes in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, police said on Wednesday.
Two other policemen were injured in the gunfight between government security forces and insurgents in Ilaga district on Tuesday, said Iqbal al-Qudussy, a spokesman for the joint military-police operation in Papua.
“Nine members of the armed criminal group were killed in the fighting,” he said.
The National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB), the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, meanwhile denied that nine of its members were killed in Tuesday’s fighting.
“The claim isn’t true and it’s public deception,” the group’s spokesman Sebby Sambom said in a statement. “They are losing. They are being defeated by our forces,” he added.
The fighting came after President Joko Widodo ordered a crackdown on the separatist group after insurgents on Sunday killed Brigadier General I Gusti Putu Danny Karya, who headed the provincial intelligence agency.
Danny Karya was visiting Beoga district to assess the security situation following recent violence in the region, when his convoy was ambushed by separatist guerillas.
TPNPB claimed responsibility for Danny Karya’s killing.
The group has also said it was behind the killings of four civilians, including two teachers, saying the victims were spies for the government.
Papua has been the scene of a separatist insurgency since the 1960s, but deadly clashes between rebels and government security forces have intensified in the past several years.