Monday, April 9, 2012


      Jakarta, April 9, 2012 (ANTARA) - Indonesia was shocked following a fatal shooting that killed a reporter and injured four passengers aboard a Twin Otter which was about to land at Mulia Airport, Puncak Jaya, Papua Province, on Sunday (April 8).
    A series of shooting incidents by armed gangs have occurred in Indonesia`s eastern most province of Papua over the past several years, killing over a dozen people and injuring many others.
     But, it was the first time that a commercial flight has become a target of a fatal shooting in the province, which has seen a rise in separatist issues.

      Latoge Kogoya, a reporter of Papua Pos daily of Nabire, was shot in the neck and died, while the four injured people included the airplane`s pilot, Bebi Astekyang, who was hit in the leg, and co-pilot Willy, who was wounded by a bullet fragment in one of his fingers and was unable to control the flight, causing the plane to crash into a building at the airport.
      Two wounded passengers included a four-year old boy and his mother. The injured victims were immediately rushed to Mulia public hospital.
     The Twin Otter plane, belonging to Trigana Air, has been serving flight routes to remote areas in Papua.
     "So far, the (Trigana Air`s) planes have never been involved in an incident. Trigana has been operating in Papua since I was posted there in the 1990s, and there has never been any disturbance. The planes are used to distribute logistics, such as food and fuel," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said in Jakarta on Monday.

Papua is a vast mountainous province that depends on commercial flights to transport needed supplies, particularly to remote areas.

Minister Djoko stated that the shooting in Papua is an act of terror by those seeking to stop development in Papua.

"Such a crime must be stopped," Minister Djoko said at Halim Perdanakusuma airbase, eastern Jakarta.

The armed group`s members must be investigated and arrested, he added, saying that such a crime must never happen again.

"I don`t care whether the perpetrators are members of OPM (separatist Free Papua Movement) or an armed group. For sure, they have committed a crime against the civilians in Papua and could hamper development in Papua," Djoko said.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said in Jakarta on Monday that security authorities are continuing to investigate whether the gunmen involved in the Sunday airplane shooting in Papua were separatists or criminals.

"We must investigate the shooting incident at Mulia airport in Puncak Jaya (Papua Province). If the perpetrators are separatists, TNI (Indonesian Defense Forces) will deal with them, but if they are criminals, then the police will handle them. We are still waiting for the report (from security authorities in Papua) on who committed (the shooting)," Purnomo.

The minister noted that TNI has not deployed additional personnel to Papua, but is relying on the existing four TNI battalions stationed in the Papua border area.

"For the troops from outside, they are only deployed in the border area. We have four battalions in the border area," he said.

The National Police (Polri) has deployed officers in Puncak Jaya, particularly in southern PT Freeport area, Papua Province, to apprehend the perpetrators.

"All police officers in Papua, with the support of TNI, have taken investigative measures led by Puncak Jaya Police Chief Alek Korwa," Polri Chief General Timur Pradopo said on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) at Halim Perdana Kusuma air force base, Monday.

The general did not mention the exact number of officers being deployed in Puncak Jaya. He said, however, that more officers were being sent to remote areas.

Earlier on Sunday, Puncak Jaya Police chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner Alek Korwa stated in Papua that police and military personnel were hunting unidentified gunmen who shot at the Twin Otter airplane.

"Security officers are chasing the armed gang members. But we have a problem because they are hiding in a mountainous area near the airport," Alek Korwa said.

Security officers from Papua Police Mobile Brigade and from TNI are assigned to apprehend the armed gang members, he added.

Legislator Aboebakar Alhabsyi of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction has urged National Police Chief General Timur Pradopo to deal with a series of violent incident in Papua, including the latest plane shooting.

Alhabsyi said in Jakarta Monday that the national police must improve their performance in maintaining security and in carrying out law enforcement in Papua because there have been many shooting incidents in the country`s eastern most province over the past few years.

TNI must be involved in dealing with the violence that has threatened the nation`s security and sovereignty, he said.

"We all know that we have serious work there, particularly concerning the OPM (separatist group)," he said.

In 2011, there were at least 13 shooting incidents that killed, among others, seven employees of US gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, and five other civilians were injured. Also, two members of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) and one police officer was wounded.

"In 2010, an armed group shot at a PT Freeport five-car convoy, injuring seven people, including an American citizen. In 2009, I recorded 17 shooting incidents that killed five civilians, one police officer, and four Freeport employees," he said.

The lawmaker added that in 2010, 28 people were the victims of gunshot wounds. This included 20 employees, two military officers and four police members.

The latest airplane shooting was the third shooting incident in Papua this year, as two employees of PT Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia, a contractor of PT Freeport Indonesia, were killed in January 2012 and a police officer was critically injured in March 2012. ***1***

(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/A/A014) 09-04-2012 21:26:32

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