Soldiers may be deployed in Papua to assist the police in the search for the Free Papua Organization (OPM) responsible for Sunday’s attack on a commercial airplane, as the president demands swift justice.
The attack left one person dead and has raised fears that separatist rebels are becoming more brazen and could further undermine the fragile peace in the province.
“This must be solved quickly,” presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said on Monday (09/04). “Those responsible should be brought to justice. This is totally unacceptable.”
Julian said the president was concerned about the psychological effect the incident could have on residents, leaving them fearful and unable to function normally.
“This is proof that the situation in Papua is not yet secure and there are still many armed groups there,” he said.
Julian said security personnel in Papua were doing everything they could to solve the case and catch the assailants.
The president, Julian said, has also issued instructions that there should be no lack of personnel to assure security in Papua and that the military might be deployed to reinforce the police.
A group of armed OPM opened fire on a Twin Otter airplane operated by Trigana Air that had just landed at the airport in Mulia, in Puncak Jaya district.
The aircraft careered off the runway and into a warehouse. One passenger, a journalist, died after being shot in the neck. The pilot, co-pilot and a mother and her 4-year-old son were injured in the attack.
National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said the police believed those responsible for Sunday’s attack had carried out previous attacks in the area.
“We suspect the perpetrators have carried out previous attacks,” he said. “They control the field there. Our team is working hard to investigate the attack and go after them.”
He said the attackers were part of an “armed civilian group” but gave no details.
Another National Police spokesman, Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution, said the difficult terrain in the area would make it difficult for the authorities to hunt down the attackers. Mulia is in a mountainous area and the airport is hemmed in by peaks.
“This could happen again … it is really difficult,” the spokesman said. “The district police can ask for reinforcements from the Papua Police. If the Papua Police ask us for reinforcements, we will send them, whatever they need.”
He said so far the police had only been able to estimate that the shooters opened fire from about 50 meters away, he said.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Independent Journalists is urging the National Police to quickly locate the shooters.
The journalist killed in the attack was Leiron Kogoya, 35, who was a reporter for Papua Pos, a local newspaper.
The airport has experienced several recent attacks, including one in October that saw the local police chief shot and killed.
Mulia has also been the scene of a string of unsolved shootings targeting both civilians and security personnel.
Source: The Jakarta Globe