JAKARTA, Indonesia – A commander of rebels in Indonesia's easternmost Papua region says as many as 100 villagers have taken shelter with them in a mountainous jungle following an Indonesian military attack.
The military and Papuan independence fighters have given starkly different accounts of the clashes that began Sunday near the U.S.-owned Grasberg copper mine. The number of combatants killed is at least two based on each side's statements.
A National Liberation Army of West Papua commander, Hendrik Wanmang, said Tuesday that indigenous Papuan villagers, mostly women and children, fled into the jungle after Indonesian soldiers set fire to their homes over the weekend.
The Indonesian military spokesman for the Papua region, Col. Muhammad Aidi, said soldiers had freed several villages from separatist control and accused the rebels of burning homes.