Rebels kill soldier in Indonesia’s Papua province

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Separatist rebels in Indonesia’s Papua province killed a government soldier during a gunfight on Tuesday, the military said.

The fighting broke out after insurgents opened fire on soldiers guarding Kiwi airport in Kiwirok district, provincial military spokesman Colonel Reza Nur Patria said.

Kiwirok was the scene of arson attacks by rebels on a school and health clinic on September 13. A nurse died after jumping into a ravine to escape the attack, police said.

The West Papua National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack on the public facilities, saying they were waging “a revolutionary war on the colonialist government of Indonesia.”

The Indonesian government designated separatist insurgents as terrorists in April, after an army general was killed in a rebel ambush.

The killing prompted President Joko Widodo to order a crackdown on the separatist group.

Indigenous people have fought for nationhood in the Papua region, which consists of the Papua and West Papua provinces, since the 1960s.

But deadly clashes between rebels and government security forces have intensified in the past few years.

Military and police personnel have been accused of human rights abuses in Papua, a mainly Melanesian region that was incorporated into Indonesia in a UN-administered ballot that rights groups and pro-independence activists criticized as a sham.

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