JAKARTA: Two men shot dead a local police chief at an airport in Indonesia’s Papua region on Monday, taking the number of deaths to eight this month in the resource-rich and volatile province, a police spokesman said.
The shooting in the mountainous Puncak Jaya area, believed by police to be a stronghold of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), follows recent attacks near Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc’s Papua mine and the death of two people during a rally in regional capital Jayapura aimed at declaring Papua independence.
National police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said the OPM was suspected of the killing.
It was not clear if the earlier attacks this month near Freeport were also linked to the separatist movement or to a month-long strike at the world’s second biggest copper mine, but violence in the region has escalated since miners went on strike in mid-Sept.
The miners’ dispute over pay has also drawn in local tribesmen, with their own grievances over land rights and pollution, and who armed with spears and arrows have joined Freeport workers blocking the mine’s supply roads.