Indonesia has designated separatist rebels in Papua province as a terrorist group, after an army general was killed in an ambush by the insurgents over the weekend.
Indonesia’s Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud said this at a news conference on Thursday.
“We are treating organisations and people who commit massive violence in Papua as terrorists.
“By definition, what the armed criminal group did, whatever their organisation is called terrorist acts,” the minister said.
Mahfud said the government’s decision to label the insurgent group terrorists followed recommendations from security agencies, politicians, and local people in Papua.
Nine rebels and a policeman were killed in the latest clashes in Papua on Tuesday, authorities said.
The National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB), the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, denied that its members were killed in the fighting.
The fighting came after President Joko Widodo ordered a crackdown on the separatist group after insurgents on Sunday killed Brig.-Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya, headed the Papua operation of the State Intelligence Agency.
The TPNPB claimed responsibility for the killing.
The group also said it was behind this month’s killing of four civilians, including two teachers, saying the victims were spies for the government.
Papua has been the scene of a separatist insurgency since the 1960s, but deadly clashes between rebels and government security forces have intensified in the past several years.