Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Papua is still tense. The mystery shooters are not yet revealed.

Papua: Shot in the Dark

THE main road from Tembagapura to PT Freeport Indonesia’s mining center in Timika, Papua, is now like a dead-end. Until Friday of last week, the sound of the bullets from a sniper still caused quite a stir.

The incident started one Saturday dawn three weeks ago. Lukan John Biggs, a Freeport employee from Australia, with his wife Lia Madandan, rode their vehicle from the employee housing at Mile 68 Tembagapura, headed for Rimba Papua Golf Course, in
Kuala Kencana City. They were accompanied by Drew Nicholas Grant, an Australian citizen working at Freeport, and Maju Panjaitan.

Lukan drove with his wife in the passenger seat. Grant and Panjaitan sat in the back seat. Approaching a sharp corner, entering Mile 51-52, Lukan slowed down. Suddenly there was a shot. Seconds later Panjaitan shouted, “Grant’s bleeding!” The 38-year-old man died on the way. “They were ambushed by an armed group,” said Chief of Papua Regional Police, Inspector-General Bagus Ekodanto. Oddly enough, prior to the police processing the scene, several people came in two cars. After taping and taking pictures of the location, they departed.

The police discovered three shell casings of type DJ 564, 5.56 calibre, and three projectiles in a car belonging to the Tembagapura sectoral police which had broken down at the corner where Grant was shot. “The bulllets are army/police standard,” said Ekodanto.

It is estimated that Grant was shot from a distance of 25 meters, from a misty and dark area. Only a sharp-shooter could make the shot. In addition to finding shell casings, the police discovered a box that was used for wrapped rice not far from the
location. “It may belong to the perpetrator,” said Ekodanto.
A source in the National Police suspected that the perpetrator was a member of the Free Papua Movement. But the police wouldn’t speculate. “We’ll look into it first,” said Ekodanto. On Wednesday two weeks ago, an armed group once again struck at
Mile 54. Five policeman were injured.

Four days later, the Mobile Brigade, Brimob, which intended to secure the site of Grant’s shooting received a shower of bullets. Two security vehicles bringing mattresses for the troops were also shot at on the way. Freeport security guard, Markus Rante Allo, died. His partners, Edy Piter Bunga and Eddy Aware, were injured. “They were attacked at Mile 51,” said Ekodanto.

At night, member of Papua’s regional police Provost, Bripda Marson Patipulohi, disappeared and was found dead only the following morning. On Wednesday two weeks ago, five policemen were again targeted at Mile 54. They were sweeping the path that
would be passed by Secretary to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal & Security Affairs, Lt. Gen. Roberto Romulo, on the way to Timika. All five were injured.

It is suspected the rebels belong to a group that intends to turn Papua into a power and influence business base. Others accuse the group as having ambitions to secure large funds for security from Freeport.

Other information connected the terror to cultural figure Kelly Kwalik. Kelly’s name came to prominence when there was a rebellion in Mapenduma in 1996. Some also said that the terror was triggered by an adat group in connection with the 1 percent contract sharing of the Freeport mine.

Two companies of Brimob troops that landed at Mosez Kilangin Airport, Timika, on Friday two weeks ago, didn’t deter the unrest. On Wednesday last week, a convoy of Freeport buses carrying joint troops from the army and the police were ambushed by a group of armed people near the location where Grant was shot.
The continuous sniper attacks are making efforts to discover who shot Grant more difficult. The police are arresting civilians instead. On Monday of last week, seven Mimika residents were arrested at their homes. “We dare not sleep at nights, afraid of being arrested,” said Yohanes, a resident of Kwamki Baru.

The arrests of civilians provoked reactions from leaders who are members of the Amungme Tribe Adat Deliberations Council, the Kamoro Tribe Adat Deliberations Council, and other elements. “The arrests of civilians are efforts to distract from the shooters,” said Fidelis Zonggonao, a Moni community figure.

Fidelis, who was Banti village head during the Papuan Military Operations Area, questioned the origins of bullets produced by Pindad. On the Pindad wrapper is written Army-TNI. “In a tribal war using arrows, the perpetrators are easily caught,” he said.

“But shooters are never caught. Where did the bullets come from?”
Dwidjo U. Maksum, Tjahjono Ep (Timika)

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