Mon, Jul 13, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Second Freeport mine employee killed in Indonesia

AFP , TIMIKA, INDONESIA

A second employee of US mining giant Freeport McMoRan was shot dead yesterday in Indonesia and five others wounded, a day after an Australian worker was killed by men using military-issue weapons in a planned ambush, reports said.

Markus Rattealo, a security guard for the Freeport’s Indonesian subsidiary, was shot while he was traveling in a car in Papua province, the Jakarta Post reported.

“Our anti-terror [police] team had a gun battle with the unknown gunmen,” National Police spokesman Sulistyo Ishak was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.

On Saturday, Drew Nicholas Grant, 38, a Freeport technician, was shot dead as he traveled in a car with three others between Tembagapura and Timika, provincial police chief Bagus Ekodanto said.

The attack occurred in Freeport’s vast concession area, which includes the massive Grasberg gold and copper mine.

“The shooting was pre-planned. [It’s] clear they [the attackers] were using weapons belonging to the police or the military,” he added.

“Three bullet casings and a packet of rice were found on site. It seemed like they [the attackers] had been waiting for him and his friends to arrive,” Ekodanto said.

He said Grant was shot five times in the neck, chest and stomach from 25m.

“We’re still investigating the case. We don’t want to be hasty and say they are from separatist groups,” he said.

Grant’s body is undergoing a post-mortem examination in Jakarta and was expected to to be flown to Australia yesterday, TVOne reported.

A 40-member team of the police’s elite Mobile Brigade, anti-terror squad and forensic experts have been deployed to beef up security in the area and “ensure that the mining operation is not disrupted,” Ekodanto said.

Two American teachers and an Indonesian colleague who worked at the Grasberg mine were shot dead in an ambush near the site in 2002.

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

The rebels denounce PT Freeport as a symbol of Jakarta’s rule.

The weekend killings come amid an escalation of violence in the region in recent months that has left several security personnel dead.

The Grasberg mining complex, a global supplier of copper and gold that began operations under the Suharto dictatorship, has been a constant source of friction with local Papuans angered over the outflow of profit to foreign investors, while they remain poor.

The Indonesian government does not allow foreign media to freely report in Papua, where it has tens of thousands of troops.

The site of Saturday’s shooting was inaccessible to local reporters.

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