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Nov 10, 4:16 AM EST

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- A member of an armed separatist group in Indonesia's Papua region has disputed police claims that it's holding villagers hostage during a standoff with security forces.

Attacks by the National Liberation Army of West Papua on paramilitary police in the past month have killed one officer and wounded six others. The two sides are also waging a PR war, with police calling the group an armed criminal gang.

Hendrik Wanmang, who described himself as a commander, said in an interview Friday that Banti and Kimbeli villagers can't go to an area the separatists define as a battlefield because it's unsafe but otherwise are free to go to their farms and move about.

Police on Thursday said gunmen were occupying the villages and preventing people from leaving.

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