A Protestant pastor was among those who died in Papua province in Indonesia on July 16 when 20 gunmen reportedly attacked a truck and opened fire, said a report from the rights group International Christian Concern.
At least ten persons were killed by a gang of armed men allegedly led by a certain Egianus Kogoya.
The report said those onboard the truck included traders transporting goods to another village and a Christian pastor, Eliaser Baner, who was on his way to a church conference.
Kogoya is a leader in the West Papuan Liberation Army and is responsible for several violent attacks in the region, the report added.
Reverend Henrek Lokra, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Desk at the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, called on the government “to form an independent investigation team to…[look] into the killings of civilians.”
Although Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua is mainly Christian, violent attacks have been prevalent since its annexation by Indonesia in the 1960s.
Separatist groups have waged war against security forces, causing conflict and the displacement of civilians. Tension has recently escalated as the government plans to divide the region further from two to six provinces.
According to the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, 58 incidents, largely shootings, involving soldiers and civilians in Papua between 2017-2021 were recorded, resulting in the death of 69 civilian and 135 injuries.