24 Oct 2002

Indonesian police question 74 people over Freeport ambush

4:58 pm on 24 October 2002

Police in the Indonesian province of Papua have questioned 74 people in connection with last August's ambush near the Freeport mine which left three people dead, including two Americans.

The Antara news agency quotes a spokesman as saying 30 of them were members of the armed forces.

The processing of the files is on hold because the police commander has been seconded to Bali to head the probe of the attack there.

Human rights groups say the military was behind the attack but the army says separatists carried out the killing.

The US has described the ambush as a terrorist attack and US police have visited Papua.

Meanwhile, the Australian government has updated its advisory for Indonesia and says Australians should stay away from Papua province.

The foreign ministry says Australians there should exercise caution and monitor local developments that might affect their safety, especially in view of the heightened security situation following the incidents in the Freeport mine area.

The Australian government also recommends deferring all travel to Bali.