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KST Papua’s strength is getting weaker

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By: Loa Murib

Papua, a land rich in natural beauty, is also often witness to tension and violence carried out by the Papuan Separatist and Terrorist Group (KST). However, in a recent incident in Maybrat, KST Papua’s strength seems to be weakening, as evidenced by their failed attempt to launch an attack on elite TNI troops.

TNI troops from the 133/Yudha Sakti Infantry Battalion Task Force (Yonif 133/YS) succeeded in thwarting acts of terror and attacks carried out by KST Papua against workers at the community health center construction project in Ayata Village, Middle East Aifat District, Maybrat Regency, Southwest Papua. The chronology of this incident shows that the bravery and toughness of the security forces forced KST Papua to flee into the forest after a gunfight that lasted for some time.

Lt. Col. (Inf) Andhika Ganessakti, Dansatgas Yonif 133/YS, explained that the acts of terror carried out by KST Papua had occurred for three consecutive days before culminating in a firefight with patrol troops. The patrol team succeeded in thwarting KST Papua’s evil intentions, forcing them to flee for safety into the forest.

The success of elite TNI troops in facing this threat is concrete evidence that the strength of KST Papua is increasingly being eroded. Although they remain active in efforts to disrupt public security and infrastructure development in the Maybrat area, these efforts are increasingly difficult to carry out due to the intensive presence and vigilance of security forces.

At the same time, it should be noted that no casualties were reported in the incident, either from the task force troops or from the local community. This shows that the security forces’ efforts to protect civilians and ensure their safety have been successful.

Lt. Col. Andhika also appealed to the public and workers at the community health center construction project in Ayata Village to remain alert and report any suspicious incidents to the authorities. With cooperation between the community and security forces, it is hoped that security and stability in the region can be maintained and improved.

Apart from that, tensions in other areas of Papua have risen again after the shooting incident of the Wings Air plane by KST Papua members in Dekai District, Yahukimo Regency, on Saturday, February 17 2024. However, the firm response from the security forces has revealed the weakness of KST Papua, especially after one their member, Otniel Giban, died in a gun battle with TNI-Polri soldiers.

Otniel Giban, or better known by his nickname Bolong Giban, is a key figure in the KST. He was the only man carrying a firearm among the ten KST members involved in the shooting down of the Wings Air plane. However, his courage had fatal consequences for him. After being chased for more than five days by TNI-Polri soldiers, Otniel Giban was finally killed around Kali Brasa, Dekai District, Yahukimo Regency.

Otniel Giban’s death was not just the end of the life of a KST member, but also revealed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities that existed within the group. The identification of Otniel Giban as the main perpetrator in the shooting down of the Wings Air plane shows that even though KST Papua continues to carry out violent acts, they are not immune from the law and the power of security enforcement.

Head of the Cartenz Peace Ops Task Force, Police Commissioner Faizal Ramadhani, said that the identification of Otniel Giban was based on evidence such as old photos on social media and video documents of past events. Otniel Giban, who is an active KST Ndugama member in the Wosak Battalion, was confirmed to be involved in a series of violent incidents that occurred previously. In this way, law enforcement against Papuan KST members has become increasingly firm and focused.

The arrest and murder of Otniel Giban also brought physical evidence that strengthened the weakness of KST Papua. The items found on his body, such as camouflage clothes and certain accessories, show the limited structure and organization of KST Papua. With the success of the security forces in arresting KST members and collecting evidence, this shows that their network and power are increasingly exposed and limited.

Bayu Suseno, Head of the Cartenz-2024 Peace Ops Public Relations Task Force, explained that from the results of the investigation at the Dekai Yahukimo Regional Hospital, a number of pieces of evidence were found on Otniel Giban’s body. These items are concrete evidence that strengthens law enforcement efforts against KST Papua members.

Thus, through the Wings Air plane shooting incident and the death of Otniel Giban, we can see that KST Papua’s strength is increasingly weakening. Firm and measured actions from the security forces have succeeded in exposing weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the structure and organization of KST Papua. Even though challenges still exist, with continued strong law enforcement and security efforts, hopes for achieving peace and stability in Papua are increasingly wide open.

Through this incident, we can see that KST Papua’s strength is getting weaker. Even though they are still trying to disrupt order and development in Papua, these efforts are increasingly hampered by the presence and courage of security forces who are ready to act. This gives hope that with continued strong law enforcement and security efforts, Papua can achieve better peace and progress in the future.

*The writer is a Papuan student in Surabaya

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