Gunmen launch new attack at Freeport mine

Gunmen launch new attack at Freeport mine

The Jakarta Post, Timika,
Markus Makur

A policeman was killed and four other security personnel wounded in a car accident near the PT Freeport Indonesia mine Wednesday.

In a separate incident, police have confirmed that gunmen fired at a convoy of employee vehicles operated by the US gold mining company in Papua.

The ambush is the latest attack on the world's largest gold mine this month.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. F.X Bagus Ekodanto said that no one was killed or injured in Wednesday's attack at Mile 51 on the road leading to the Grasberg mine in Tembagapura, Timika.

However, he did confirm that Brig. Ismail from the police Mobile Brigade, was killed in a car accident a few kilometers away on the same road. Two other police officers and two soldiers were injured in the accident, he said. They were all in the same car that overturned on the road at Mile 45, Bagus said. The accident occurred when the car flipped from driving at "high speeds in a dangerous area", officers said.

One of the two soldiers, identified as First Lt. Sriyono, was in critical condition after the car accident, Bagus said. The dead and injured victims were taken to the Kuala Kencana clinic in the Tembagapura mining complex for an autopsy and medical treatment.

There are conflicting reports on the number of dead and injured in the two incidents. Witnesses earlier said that two people were killed in the latest shooting, but officials could not confirm these reports.

Bagus said the shots fired by the unidentified gunmen caused only minor damage to the targeted vehicles.

The convoy of buses were carrying hundreds of Freeport employees returning to the mine after the previous attacks.

"It's true that an ambush took place today [Wednesday] at Mile 51 by an unidentified group of armed men.

"They may have fired shots from behind a steep hilly area. A joint police and military team is hunting down the attackers," Bagus said.

Freeport spokesman Mindo Pangaribuan said in a statement to the press that three people had sustained "minor injuries" after their vehicle was shot at.

The shooting took place outside the mining area and was not targeted at the convoy of the Freeport vehicles, he said.

Mindo also confirmed the report on Wednesday's car accident that killed one policeman and wounded several other officers.

The accident is apparently unrelated to previous ambushes by gunmen in the area.

The incidents came a day after authorities said they had rounded up 15 suspects allegedly involved in the killing of at least a dozen people in shootings since July 11, including the death of a 29-year-old Australian Freeport employee and a policeman.

Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson was quoted by Associated Press as saying that six of the 15 arrested people had been charged, including a man who has allegedly admitted to being a sniper.

"We have been assured from the highest levels of government in Indonesia that they are committed to providing safety for our people and for our operations," he said in a conference call detailing the company's latest earnings.