Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Few leads, no suspects in Mulia runway rampage: Police

Ambushed: The Twin Otter aircraft of domestic carrier Trigana Air is seen with its front resting on a building at the airport of Mulia town after gunmen fired on the plane as it landed. 
Picture: AFP 

The police say they have few leads in the attack on a civilian aircraft by gunmen in Papua on Sunday, casting doubts on government efforts to bring peace to the country’s easternmost region.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said in Jakarta on Monday that investigators had no significant leads in the incident at Mulia Airport in Puncak Jaya.

Saud said that neither could the police connect the runway shooting with other deadly incidents in the regency. “We are still working on that.”

Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha, said the incident indicated the continued volatility in Papua.

“The President has received reports about the incident and he was shocked. The President has ordered the security authorities to launch a special probe to address the incident,” Julian told reporters at the Presidential Office on Monday.

A Twin Otter plane operated by privately run Trigana Air was attacked by gunmen on Sunday morning, shortly after it landed at Mulia Airport in Puncak Jaya.

The plane crashed into a nearby warehouse after the pilot lost control. Leiron Kogoya, a journalist from the Papua Pos, died from a gunshot wound to the neck, while four other people onboard, including the pilot and first officer, were injured.

“Attacks on commercial aircraft are a serious threat. We are dealing with armed groups. The perpetrators must be brought to court. In the meantime, the authorities will guarantee that the situation is sufficiently conducive for residents to conduct their daily activities,” Julian added.

At the same airport in October 2011, Mulia Police chief Adj. Comr. Dominggus Octavianus Awes was shot dead by an unidentified assailant who fled with his pistol.

The police have not identified or arrested suspects in a host of violent incidents in Papua and West Papua, including attacks on police officers and journalists.

Leiron, the Papua Pos reporter, was the third person killed in Puncak Jaya in 2012. A civilian and an officer assigned to a National Police Mobile Brigade special operations unit were also shot dead by unknown assailants in January in separate incidents.

Neither has anyone been arrested for the killings of seven people in Mulia in 2011, or for the six slain in 2010.

Lt. Gen. (ret) Bambang Darmono, the chairman of the Special Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), said the Trigana incident would unlikely have any repercussions. “I just returned from Mulia. I saw people living normal lives as if there had never been a shooting. The local market was packed and everything looked normal,” he said.

The UP4B is tasked with accelerating infrastructure development and coordinating central and regional government programs in mountainous areas of Papua where 1.5 million indigenous people live.

Poengky Indarti, director of the human rights watchdog Imparsial, questioned government efforts to improve security in Puncak Jaya.

“The area is proven to be vulnerable to attacks,” she said.

The Trigana attack might have been orchestrated by those who wanting to benefit from sowing chaos in the region, she added.

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