2 Sep 2002

Separatist movement in Indonesia's Papua province denies killing three in convoy ambush

12:16 pm on 2 September 2002

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 for treatment.

John Ondawame of the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, said the area commander for the movement had confirmed his men were not involved in the attack.

Mr Ondawame said in a statement of operation issued last week, the Area Commander, Kelly Kwalik , specified that ordinary Indonesians and white people were not the enemy of the OPM.

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

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

Yesterday , troops shot dead a Papuan man after an encounter with an unidentified group near where the ambush occured.

The Human Rights Group, Elsham, has called for an independent inquiry into the attack, led by the United States.