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Indonesia: Gunmen kill three in attack on airport in Papua days before regional elections

Posted by On 5:20 PM

Indonesia: Gunmen kill three in attack on airport in Papua days before regional elections

Email Indonesia: Gunmen kill three in attack on airport in Papua days before regional elections

Updated June 26, 2018 08:30:37

Wamena Airport in Papua Photo: The plane travelled from Wamena airport (pictured) to bring election materials to the remote region. (Wikimedia Commons) Related Story: Papua separatists dispute Indonesia's claim of taking hostages Related Story: Armed separatists occupy villages near Freeport's Papua mine Related Story: Global union heads to Indonesia to defend F reeport workers Map: Papua

Three bystanders were killed and a small child was injured when separatist fighters in Indonesia's Papua province opened fire on a small plane bringing in security personnel ahead of regional elections due later this week, according to local officials.

Voting will take place across Indonesia on Wednesday but security personnel are on high alert in Papua, where a long-running independence struggle has often turned violent.

A group of armed men ambushed and shot at the plane after it landed at the tiny airport and also at vendors near the airstrip, a military official said.

"The plane was carrying 15 mobile brigade officers tasked with safeguarding the local election," said Colonel Muhammad Aidi, a military official of Nduga regency.

The dead civilians were migrant traders from South Sulawesi province, including a husband and wife, who were shot and stabbed as the attackers fled the airport, he said.

Colonel Aidi said the pilot suffered a slight wound.

He said the chartered Twin Otter plane was transporting paramilitary police from the highlands town of Wamena to Nduga to provide security during regional elections on Wednesday.

He added that the assailants were members of the "Armed Civilians Criminal Group" that had previously shot dead a worker on the trans-Papua highway project.

Indonesia's police and military frequently blame attacks in Papua on criminals rather than admitting an insurgency.

Indonesia took control of Papua following a widely criticised UN-backed referendum in 1969, six years after the end of Dutch colonial rule.

Under Indonesian rule, indigenous Papuans have been largely shut out of their region's economic activity, which is dominated by extraction of natural resources by Indonesian and foreign companies including the giant US-owned Grasberg gold and copper m ine.

Police and security forces are seen near burning vehicles. Photo: Separatist groups in Papua are often labelled as criminals, instead of admitting to an insurgency. (Reuters: Muhammad Yamin)


Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, elections, papua, indonesia

First posted June 26, 2018 07:05:28

Source: Google News Network: Liputan 24 English | Berita 24 English | Warta 24 English | Netizen 24 Indonesia

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