Mon, Apr 09, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Gunmen attack plane in Papua, kill one passenger

AFP, TIMIKA, INDONESIA

Gunmen fired on a small plane after it landed in Indonesia’s restive Papua region yesterday, killing one passenger and wounding four people including both pilots, Indonesian police and a district official said.

The Twin Otter plane, operated by domestic carrier Trigana Air and carrying eight passengers and crew, ran into a building at the airport in the town of Mulia after the pilots lost control.

Gun attacks are common in the Papua region in Indonesia’s extreme east, where poorly armed separatist groups have for decades fought a low-level insurgency for the mostly ethnic Melanesian population.

“One person was killed and four were wounded in the plane incident, including the two pilots, a female passenger and a four-year-old boy,” provincial police spokesman Johannes Nugroho said.

“I think there were only one or two shots and the other casualties were from shrapnel,” he added.

District official Agus -Fakaubun said the pilot was hurt in the leg and the co-pilot in the hand.

He added that the plane had arrived from another district of Papua.

“The aircraft had reached the end of the airstrip and was taxiing to park when a group of armed men shot at the aircraft from the nearby hills,” he said, adding that the attackers had fled.

“The pilots lost control after getting hurt, and the aircraft ran into an airport building,” Fakaubun said.

Yesterday’s incident was the latest in a spate of gun attacks in the region, some of them near US mining giant Freeport McMoRan’s Grasberg gold and copper mine, which suspended operations in February after a three-month strike by workers.

In December last year, unidentified gunmen opened fire on an aircraft carrying Freeport workers, wounding one passenger.

Yesterday’s incident was not believed to be related to Freeport’s operations.

Mulia is in Papua’s Puncak Jaya District, which is believed to be a separatist hotbed.

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