Indonesia’s top intelligence official in Papua Province was a one-star general who did not believe in leading from his office. A Bali native, Brig. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha rose through the ranks of Indonesia’s feared special forces and often went on patrol with troops in areas where separatist rebels were known to stage attacks.
“Ambushes and gunfights are common,” said Wawan Hari Purwanto, a spokesman for the State Intelligence Agency. “But he always chose to be at the front in every patrol and observation, including in gunfights. He didn’t want to be just behind a desk.”
On Sunday, General Danny, 51, walked into his final ambush. He was shot and killed near a church in remote Dambet Village in Papua’s central highlands. Now, human rights activists fear that President Joko Widodo’s call for a strong response to the general‘s death may prompt harsh reprisals against the Indigenous population in Indonesia’s easternmost province.
In announcing the killing on Monday, Mr. Joko called on the army and the police to hunt down and arrest every member of the group responsible for the general’s death. General Danny was the first general to die in action in Indonesia’s history, an army spokesman said.
takes up the western half of the island of New Guinea. It was occupied and annexed by Indonesia in the 1960s, but many Indigenous Papuans favor independence and separatist groups have been waging a low-level insurgency campaign for decades.
a local news outlet. There was no further explanation.
The ambush took place about 20 miles northeast of the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine, a symbol of the exploitation of Papua’s natural resources by foreign interests. Operated for decades by the American mining company Freeport-McMoRan, it was taken over in 2018 by an Indonesian state-owned company.
Mr. Wawan, the intelligence agency spokesman, said the ambush did not result from an intelligence failure and that the general was well aware of the risks.
“To die in the line of duty is a matter of the highest pride,” he said.
In a statement on Monday announcing General Danny’s death, the intelligence agency said it “continues to improve early detection and early prevention” of attacks by violent groups in Papua. The general’s visit was made in “an effort to increase the morale and spirit of the people who have been disturbed by the cruelty and savagery of the Papuan separatist and terrorist group,” the statement said.