Military members carry out air raid in response to TPNPB attack on mining site in Yahukimo – total of 12 civilians reportedly killed in the attacks

Security force members reportedly attacked an illegal gold mining site at the Yi River in the Seradala District, Yahukimo Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province, on 6 November 2023. The attack, using ground forces and three helicopters, occurred in response to an initial attack by members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) on the mining site. According to information received, eleven people were killed and several were injured during the TPNPB assault; and one person was killed and one injured during the military attack.

Following the TPNPB attack, about 60 persons working at the mining site fled to neighbouring villages and informed the Yahukimo District police via SSB radio about the incident. Thereupon, joint security forces, consisting of members of the Damai Cartenz special police and the 1715 military command, launched an attack on the mining location involving three helicopters and ground personnel.   

Informants allege that security forces indiscriminately opened fire and dropped mortar grenades from the helicopters on the mining site. A Papuan student named Mr Nopenus Murib was reportedly killed during the attack. He had worked in the mine, earning money to pay his tuition. Another mine worker, Mr Ayunga Telenggen, was injured during the attack and needed medical treatment.

Local or national media have not yet taken notice of the attack, as the mining site is very remote, and security forces have shut down the internet network in the area. Moreover, the connecting road between Yahukimo’s biggest town, Dekai, and the Pegunungan Bintang Regency has been closed by security forces for more than a month. Informants say the displaced gold panners have difficulty returning to Dekai by road.

The Yahukimo Regency has become a hotspot of armed violence over the past years. The mutilation of two indigenous women and the killing of five civilians at the Braza River are the most recent cases of violence in the regency. On 16 October 2023, the TPNPB had already attacked an illegal mining site in Yahukimo and killed at least seven gold panners, mostly non-Papuans. The police were able to evacuate eleven persons from the illicit mining site. The TPNPB has called upon all non-Papuans to leave conflict hotspots, in particular the regencies Yahukimo, Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak, Pegunungan Bintang, and Maybrat.

Photos of a smoke and mortar grenade used in the attack on the illegal mining site in Yahukimo, 6 November 2023

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Seradala (-5.084511949298131, 139.9371221798321)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Pegunungan Province, Yahukimo Regency, Seradala District
total number of victims: two
period of incident: 06.11.2023
perpetrator:  other security forces
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues:  ill-treatment, extra-judicial killings, indigenous peoples
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Nopenus Murib, student maleunknownindigenousexecution  
1Ayunga Telenggenmaleunknownindigenousill-treatment