Police targeted by separatists
JAKARTA/TIMIKA, Indonesia: An Indonesian police officer was killed and a second wounded yesterday, after both were shot in the back in an area near FreeportMcMoRan Inc’s giant Grasberg copper mine in the eastern province of Papua, police said.
The officers were patrolling an area close to where a Freeport vehicle was targeted in a shooting on Tuesday, Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said in a statement. A helicopter flew the men to a hospital in the nearby lowland city of Timika.
The main access road to Grasberg remained closed, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said, referring to a 127km stretch from Timika to the mining town of Tembagapura that runs near a river rich with gold tailings from the mine upstream.
A string of at least 15 separate shooting incidents in the area since midAugust that wounded at least 12 people and killed two police officers has been blamed by police on an ‘‘armed criminal group’’, but linked to separatist rebels by others.
In a statement, the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNOPM), a group linked to the Free Papua Movement, claimed responsibility for yesterday’s incident.
The group has said it was at war with police, military and Freeport.
For decades, there have been sporadic attacks along the road where the shootings took place, but authorities’ efforts to catch the perpetrators have been hampered by thick surrounding jungle.
Papua has had a longrunning, and sometimes violent, separatist movement since the province was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised 1969 UNbacked referendum. — Reuters
Trucks operate in the openpit mine of PT Freeport’s Grasberg copper and gold mine complex near Timika, in the eastern region of Papua, Indonesia.