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Originally published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:07 PM

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Gunmen kill 8 soldiers, 2 civilians in Indonesia

Gunmen killed eight soldiers and two civilians Thursday in two separate attacks against the Indonesian army in the restive easternmost province of Papua, the military said.

Associated Press

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JAYAPURA, Indonesia —

Gunmen killed eight soldiers and two civilians Thursday in two separate attacks against the Indonesian army in the restive easternmost province of Papua, the military said.

About 20 assailants armed with guns and machetes attacked a group of nine soldiers walking to Ilaga Airport in Puncak district to collect communication equipment, killing seven, provincial army spokesman Lt. Col. Jansen Simanjuntak said.

He said two civilians working in a nearby farm were also killed in the attack.

About an hour earlier, gunmen stormed an army post in Tinggi Nambut, a village in neighboring Puncak Jaya district, and fatally shot one soldier and injured another before fleeing into the jungle, Simanjuntak said.

Indonesian military spokesman Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul said the same group was responsible for both attacks in the area, a stronghold of separatists who have battled Indonesian rule in the impoverished region for more than 40 years.

"They are believed to be old players who always try to disturb the situation there," Sitompul said in Jakarta, the capital.

Simanjuntak identified the assailants as a local separatist group led by Goliat Tabuni.

The former Dutch colony of Papua in the western part of New Guinea was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 following a U.N.-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders which has since been dismissed as a sham. A small, poorly armed separatist organization known as the Free Papua Movement has battled for independence since then.

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