Po­lice tar­geted by sep­a­ratists

Otago Daily Times - - WORLD -

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

PHOTO: 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.

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