11/20/2017, 09.54
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Papua, special forces free 345 hostages from separatists

by Mathias Hariyadi

323 adults and 22 children from the village of Tembagapura saved. The troops first successfully occupied Kimberly and Bunti. Free Papua Movement militants have fled into the jungle. Gun fire heard during evacuation of hostages exploded some shots. Two corpses found.

Jayapura (AsiaNews) - 345 free residents of the village of Tembagapura, Papua province, have been freed from the hands of a local armed group. Their release took place last November 17, thanks to a joint operation of the Indonesian armed forces. Dozens of residents decided to stay in their villages, under the strict security protocols imposed by the military and the police.

The operation started days earlier, when special forced occupied Kimberly and Bunti, two neighboring villages, and subsequently entered Tembagapura. As the assault the special forces approached the village held by the Free Papua Movement (OPM) militants, an independent, armed group.  The militants then fled to the jungle. "We've saved 323 adults and 22 children," said Papua Police Inspector General, Boy Rafli Amar.

Two corpses were found on the spot, possibly belonging to members of the armed group. Jakarta has set up a special unit to save the hostages following failed negotiations led by local leaders and religious leaders. At least 62 people between soldiers and policemen took part in the rescue operations. During the evacuation of the hostages gunshots were heard.

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