Nduga massacre

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Nduga massacre (Indonesian: "Serangan di Nduga 2018") is a mass killing of construction workers, that occurred on 1 December 2018, in Nduga Regency, Papua, Indonesia.[1] The murders are considered to be part of the Papuan conflict. Indonesian authorities blamed Papuan armed separatists for the murders. West Papua Liberation Army acknowledged responsibility for the massacre.[2]


Papua province, the location the massacre has seen low-level insurgency since its incorporation into Indonesia. Unlike other parts of the former colony of Dutch East Indies, which was recognized as part of Indonesia immediately following Dutch–Indonesian Round Table Conference of 1949, Western Papua only became part of Indonesia after the contentious Act of Free Choice in 1969. Many Papuan activists resented incorporation into Indonesia and formed independence groups, including West Papua Liberation Organization. The conflict is further fueled by economic disadvantage and poverty of Native Papuans, immigration of other ethnic groups (Transmigration program) and human rights violations by Indonesian forces.

Following his election in 2014, Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, embarked on reforms intended to alleviate grievances of Native Papuans, such as stopping Transmigration program[3] and starting massive infrastructure spending in Papua, including building Trans Papua roads network.[4] The bridge where the attack occurred is a part of the planned network.

Attack and massacre[edit]

Workers from Istaka Karya (an Indonesian construction company) were constructing a bridge over Yigi river (Indonesian: Kali Yigi) in Yigi district, Nduga Regency. They took work leave at 1 December, as the day has usually been considered unsafe to work, due to activities of Papuan separatists celebrating the declaration of Papuan independence of Free Papua Movement on that day. One of the workers allegedly took photos of one such celebration in nearby field, which angered the armed group and triggered the attack.[5][6]

At the evening, the armed Papuan separatist group attacked the workers' camp and took 25 workers as hostages. The following day (2 December 2018), the armed group took the workers to a nearby hill and proceed to shot the workers. 19 workers were confirmed dead, 2 workers were missing (as of 5 December 2018) and 4 workers managed to escape by pretending to be dead.[7]

The survivors managed to flee to nearby Indonesian Army post, where further shooting caused one soldier dead.[2]

Indonesian authorities claimed that the armed group responsible for the murders numbered around 40 people and is led by Egianus Kagoya.[8]

During evacuation process, the Indonesian National Armed Forces alleged that the rebel soldiers attack their evacuation helicopters.

In return, the armed group alleged that Indonesian military use bombs and explosives during the evacuation process, though Indonesian military stated that they did not use bombs and explosives, but they did use grenade launchers from their infantry assault rifles during the evacuation process.[9]


West Papua Liberation Army, military arm of West Papua Liberation Organization, claimed responsibility of the attack, while claiming that the victims were not civilian workers, but actually "armed members of Indonesia's military ... disguised as civilians".[2]

Jacob Rumbiak, spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (UMWP), justified the murders as "self defense against Indonesian occupation".[10]'


Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, condemned the attack and promised quick response, while Papuan provincial administration condemned the attack as "human right violation".[11] Indonesian authorities are investigating the murders and deploying armed personnel to the region.[12]

In an open letter addressed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo delivered by a video posted by YouTube, the rebel spokesperson from Free Papua Movement has stated that they demanded another referendum to be held for native Papuans. The spokesperson also stated that they would not surrender to Indonesian government.[13]

The highway project of Trans-Papua Highway is also suspended temporarily because of security concern in the area.[14]


  1. ^ "Dozens killed in Papua attack". Radio NZ. 5 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Mackenzie (5 December 2018). "West Papua Liberation Army claims responsibility for Papua killings". Radio NZ.
  3. ^ Asril, Sabrina (4 June 2015). "Jokowi Hentikan Transmigrasi ke Papua". Kompas. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  4. ^ Diela, Tabita (11 May 2015). "Jokowi Vows to Finish 4,000-km Trans-Papua Highway". Jakarta Globe.
  5. ^ "Indonesia attack: Gunmen kill 24 construction workers in Papua". BBC News. 5 December 2018.
  6. ^ Purba, John Roy (4 December 2018). "Pengakuan Korban Selamat Pembantaian Pekerja di Nduga Papua, 19 Orang Dipastikan Dibunuh". Kompas.
  7. ^ Purba, John Roy (5 December 2018). "Pura-pura Mati, Jimmi Selamat dari Pembantaian KKB di Nduga Papua". Kompas.
  8. ^ "Siapa Egianus Kagoya, Pimpinan KKB di Papua?". Deutsche Welle.
  9. ^ Post, The Jakarta. "TNI denies explosive use during rescue after Papua shootings". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  10. ^ "West Papua: conflicting reports surround attack that killed up to 31". The Guardian. 5 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Papua Govt: Istaka Shooting Violates Human Rights". Tempo (Indonesia).
  12. ^ "Indonesia probing reports dozens of workers shot dead in Papua". Straits Times. 4 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Indonesia: Papua rebels reject surrender after workers' killing". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  14. ^ Post, The Jakarta. "Trans-Papua road project suspended amid worsening security". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2018-12-13.