The National Police announced on Wednesday that they had shot and killed Kelly Kwalik, the charismatic leader of an armed faction of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Nanan Soekarna said Kwalik was killed in the early hours of Wednesday as he was resisting arrest during a police raid on a house in Timika, Papua.
Papua Police Chief Brig. Gen. Bekto Suprapto said members of the counterterrorism detachment shot Kwalik and that five others, including a 10-year-old boy, were also arrested during the raid.
Nanan said police had no option but to shoot Kwalik and that a team will conduct DNA tests on the body to confirm his identity.
The five arrested were identified as Jeep Murip, 24; Martimus Katarame, 21; Yosep Kwantik, 60; Yorni Murip, 10; and a woman, Noni Sanawarme, 35. Antiterror detachment chief Brig. Gen. Tito Karnavian said the five may be sent to Jakarta for questioning.
Nanan said Kwalik was involved in a 2002 ambush of a convoy of buses that killed a US national near the huge gold and copper mining operation of the Indonesian subsidiary of Freeport McMoRan.
Police said Kwalik was also believed to have been behind a string of armed attacks in the Freeport area that left eight people dead, three of them foreigners, between June and November this year.
However, local leaders in Papua denied that Kwalik was behind these acts of violence and insisted that his death would dent hopes of peace.
“Kelly has never done anything criminal to disrupt the security in the region. This is pure fabrication by people working with those wishing to ruin the region,” said Andreas Anggaibak, former chair of the 1999-2004 Mimika District Legislative Council.
“I have spoken with Kelly and he said he was not the one who carried out the terrorist acts,” he added.
Forkorus Yobiosembut, chief of the Papua Traditional Council (DAP), said neither Kwalik nor his group had been involved in the terrorist acts around the Freeport mine.
Markus Haluk, secretary general of the Papua Central Highland Students Association, said in a statement that the shooting jeopardized the peace process in Papua, where a pro-independence movement has been waging a low-level insurgency since the 1960s.
“The government of Indonesia has not shown goodwill in solving the Papua problem peacefully,” he said.
Human Rights Watch activist Andreas Harsono concurred.
“This shooting has certainly disrupted the process by destroying the Papuans’ trust in the government of Indonesia,” he said.
He added that it showed that Jakarta’s “peaceful approach” to pacifying Papua had failed.
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