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Shooting incident in Papua province

Radio New Zealand International - January 6, 2018

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia's military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua's Highlands.

There's been another shooting incident on the road to the Freeport mine in remote Tembagapura region of Indonesia's Papua province. This comes as a stand-off between West Papuan liberation fighters and Indonesian military forces continued into the new year in Tembagapura.

Reports from Papua indicate the shooting on Monday was directed at a convoy of vehicles linked to the lucrative mine at Grasberg, operated by US-based company Freeport.

The Papua Police Chief Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar told Indonesian media there were no casualties in the gunfire and that the shooters immediately fled to the surrounding bush after the incident.

Sporadic shootings at Freeport vehicles or security forces along the 125-kilometre road to the mine in the past fifteen years have left dozens of people killed and hundreds injured. However there's been a surge in shootings in the past three months.

There has also been an intensifying of the type of hostilities between Indonesian security forces and Papuan independence fighters that has simmered since the incorporation of the former Dutch New Guinea into Indonesia in the 1960s.

Since the second half of last year, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have been in a rolling combat with Indonesia's military, the TNI, and police in Tembagapura and surrounding region.

In recent days, reports from Papua indicate the fighting has spread to Nduga regency where two TNI personnel were killed last month, prompting reprisal attacks which left two civilians dead and a church burnt.

The TPN said that as well as independence, its goal was to close the Freeport mine, which is one of the largest sources of revenue for the Indonesian state.

Last year, police claimed the TPN was targetting civilians in its military campaign. However, the TPN has denied this. According to sources linked to the TPN, it has recently proposed establishing demarcated areas for fighting in order to protect civilians.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/347563/shooting-incident-in-papua-province.

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