Jakarta. Gunmen opened fire on police investigators, killing one and injuring another near the Grasberg mine operated by the Indonesian unit of Freeport-McMoRan in Mimika, Papua, on Wednesday (15/11).
The shooting took place just a day after armed men shot at a Freeport Indonesia vehicle, wounding an employee.
"Two members of the Police's Mobile Brigade [Brimob] were shot by an armed group while on patrol," Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Commr. Suryadi Diaz said.
He said the body of Brig. Firman and wounded Brig. Yongky Rumte were taken to the district's capital Timika by helicopter.
Police are searching for the assailants.
Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar told reporters in a message sent through WhatsApp that the armed group was formed in 2015. While no incidents were reported in 2016, the gunmen became active in September and are now besieging two villages in the district, Banti and Kimbely, which are home to more than 1,300 residents.
Police are trying to resolve the situation through persuasive measures to avoid casualties.
According to National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasito, food supplies were sent to the villages that have been sealed off since more than two weeks.
Local authorities are in the middle of negotiations with the armed group. Setyo said police have tried to provide mobile radios to improve communication, but this measure was rejected by the gunmen.
While police said the siege was triggered by economic issues, Setyo did not dismiss the possibility that other factors involved.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said the gunmen are provocateurs who want to disturb the peace in the region.
Last weekend, police issued a wanted list of 21 members of the group, which they believe is led by Sabinus Waker.