Indonesian authorities suspect separatists were behind the slaying of eight soldiers in Indonesian Papua on Thursday, in the biggest attack on security forces in the region's recent history.
Gunmen shot dead the eight and wounded another in two separate incidents among the mountains of Puncak Jaya district, a known hideout for rebels where attacks on police and soldiers are common.
Co-ordinating Security Minister Djoko Suyanto said the government "strongly condemned the brutal incident" and suspected the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) was behind the shootings.
Andi Widjajanto, a security analyst from the University of Indonesia, said: "This is big number of deaths, especially as they were all soldiers. This has never happened before in Papua."
The first incident took place at 9.30am, when an armed group opened fire on a military post in Tingginambut village, killing one soldier and wounding another, Papua province military spokesman Jansen Simanjuntak said.
An hour later in Sinak, 60 kilometres away, attackers opened fire at nine soldiers walking to a nearby airport, killing seven.
"They were going to the airport to pick up packages containing communication devices. All of the soldiers were unarmed," Simanjuntak said.
Suyanto urged all parties to allow the police and military to carry out their mission in hunting down the perpetrators.Topics: Indonesia Papua