The National Police is taking a persuasive approach in freeing two villages in Mimika, Papua, that have been held hostage by a group of armed men.
There are roughly around 1,300 people living in Kimbely and Banti villages. According to Police Chief General Tito Karnavian, Papua police chief and military commander (Pangdam) were currently attempting to negotiate with the armed men with the help of religious and local public figures.
Tito also revealed that Police Chief Operations Assistant Insp. Gen. Muhammad Iriawan has arrived at the location to help sort the negotiation. “We have also deployed our squad from Central Kalimantan,” said the police chief Thursday, Nov. 9.
Furthermore, according to police reports, the armed gunmen allowed the 1,300 hostages to conduct their daily activities but are barred from leaving the village. Reports also state that several villagers were threatened and physically harmed.
According to Tito, the gunmen’s motive behind the hostage situation is purely social and economic reasons since the armed group have used illegal diamond and gold miners as their shield. He explained that regularly the group would conduct illegal mining activities, as well as coerce fellow miners.
“This is a social problem that has been going on for a long time, therefore, there shouldn’t be illegal mining anymore there,” said Tito Karnavian.
Despite being driven by economic reasons, the group of armed gunmen in Papua has yet to demand any ransom.