SEPARATIST MOVEMENT IN PAPUA DENIES KILLING THREE IN CONVOY AMBUSH

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JAYAPURA, Papua, Indonesia (September 3, 2002 – Radio New Zealand International)---A spokesman for the separatist movement in the Indonesian province of Papua says independence fighters were not involved in an ambush that killed three people and injured 10.

Unknown gunmen with automatic weapons sprayed bullets at the convoy near the world’s biggest gold and copper mine, Freeport Indonesia, on Saturday, killing two American schoolteachers and an Indonesian.

Eight of the wounded were flown to Townsville Hospital in Queensland, Australia for treatment.

Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry says local police sources believe there are indications the attack was carried out by elements of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

OPM leader John Ondawame said the area commander for the movement had confirmed that his men were not involved in the attack.

Mr. Ondawame has accused the Indonesian military of orchestrating the shooting.

Yesterday, troops killed a Papuan man after an encounter with an unidentified group near where the ambush occurred.

The human rights group, Elsham, has called for an independent inquiry into the attack.

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

 

AMERICANS DIE IN AMBUSH NEAR GIANT PAPUA MINE

JAKARTA, Indonesia (September 1, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---The Indonesian military today accused Free Papua Movement (OPM) fighters of killing three people and wounding 12 near a giant American-owned copper and gold mine.

Gunmen ambushed a convoy of Freeport Indonesia employees on their way to the Tembagapura township in Indonesian Papua, killing two Americans and an Indonesian.

Foreigners have never previously been targeted for killing by the Free Papua Movement, although there have been occasional hostage-taking incidents.

Indonesia's Provincial Military Commander, Major General Mahidin Simbolon, told the Jakarta Post that a faction of the OPM led by Kelly Kwalik conducted the ambush.

The dead were identified as United States nationals Ted Burcon and Rickey Spear, and an Indonesian, Bambang Riwanto.

Nine of the injured were foreign nationals, seven of them Americans, an American Embassy spokesman in Jakarta told the Jakarta Post.

Mahidin said the gunmen ambushed the convoy of cars at Mile 62 about halfway between Timika and the Freeport mine in Tembagapura.

The mine is one of the largest in the world and has been the center of controversy over alleged environmental and human rights abuses.

Major General Simbolon told the Jakarta Post that the Freeport security task force had attempted to hunt down the gunmen. There was an exchange of fire, but no injuries were reported, he said.

The Indonesian military command said it deployed two companies of troops to search through the nearby jungle to try to capture the attackers.

Mahidin said his soldiers found 32 cartridge cases, some of them from M-16 automatic rifles.

The American embassy staffer told the Jakarta Post that Indonesian government officials had told him that troops would capture the shooters.

Siddharta Moersjid, Freeport's spokesman, denied an earlier report claiming the company had suspended its operations following the attack.

"We're still mining," he told the Jakarta Post without elaborating.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

 

TWO AMERICANS KILLED IN PAPUA

By Richard Galpin

JAKARTA, Indonesia (August 31, 2002 – BBC)---Gunmen in the Indonesian province of West Papua have shot dead three people, including two American nationals Saturday.

Nine other foreigners and five local people were also injured in the attack.

There has been a separatist rebellion in the province -- formerly known as Irian Jaya -- since the 1960s, but this is the first time foreigners have been targeted.

A spokesman for the provincial police force in West Papua said the attack took place very close to the American-owned Freeport mine, which is the world's largest gold mine and is protected by hundreds of Indonesian troops.

Expatriate community

According to the police, five gunmen blocked off the road leading to the mine complex and stopped two vehicles, which had been traveling along it, before opening fire.

The most seriously injured are being flown for treatment either in Australia or in Jakarta.

Most of the victims were teachers at the international school set up for Freeport employees.

There are approximately 1,000 expatriate workers at the mine -- the majority are either American or Australian.

The provincial police chief told the BBC he did not know who was responsible for the attack, but said whoever was behind it was aiming to undermine the stability of the region.

The separatist rebellion in the province has been very low-key. Violent attacks by the rebels are rare.

For additional reports from the BBC, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/BBC News: Asia-Pacific.

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