13 Jul 2009

Second fatal shooting near Papua's main mine

1:36 pm on 13 July 2009

Police in Papua say a security guard employed at the huge Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia's eastern-most province was shot dead and several police officers wounded in two separate shootings on Sunday.

The latest violence around the mine run by a unit of US firm Freeport McMoran comes after an Australian technical expert was shot dead in his vehicle on Saturday.

A mine statement says shots were fired at two security vehicles, killing a Freeport security guard and causing minor injuries to five other people.

The mine has been a frequent source of friction in Papua related to its environmental impact, the share of revenue going to Papuans and the legality of payments to Indonesian security forces who help guard the site.

The company says operations were not affected after the latest shooting.

Police blame the shooting on separatist rebels.

Meanwhile, the US-based group, the West Papua Advocacy Team, says there are some key parallels between these shootings and those which killed three Freeport employees in Timika in 2002.

US and Indonesian investigators found that Papuan separatists were behind the 2002 attack but local rights groups have long maintained the military had a hand in the killings.

The group's Ed McWilliams says that based on police reports about the latest shooting, it was carried out on the same road from the mine as the 2002 attack and also involved a security forces weapon.

"Moreover it's quite striking that this victim was hit in a vehicle with four other persons. The shots were fired, according to police, from at least 25 metres, and four shots hit this victim. It strikes me that this was damn fine shooting. And as we know the armed resistance in West Papua does not have, typically, that kind of skill, whereas we do find that skill of course within the Indonesian security forces."

Ed McWilliams