Freeport faces threat from armed gangs of criminal: Police

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) - Papua Police Chief Ins.Gen. Boy Rafli said there are still armed gangs of criminals seeking to create trouble for US mining company PT Freeport Indonesia.

Freeport, which has large copper and gold mine in Tembagapura, Papua, is still facing threat to security in mining operation, Boy said here on Monday.

He said the existence of the armed criminals is also a threat to the security officers including police and the military personnel in Papua.

The armed groups, police called armed gangs of criminals, are believed to be separatists hiding in the mountain jungle of Papua sporadically launching attacks on patrolling security officers.

Boy said the criminals had caused also trouble for the people such as when they attacked and set fire on a hospital in the village of Banti recently.

Boy said despite the growing intensity of attacks, he did not think Papua needs additional police personnel to help improve security in the region.

However, he did not rule out additional personnel if the situation is worse, saying,"We still study the situation, and it is not impossible that we would need additional personnel if the situation is worse.

He said the the Banti hospital has ceased operation after the attacked around five months earlier as all paramedics have not returned from evacuation.

Only native people dare to stay in the village of Banti, away from police station, he said.

He said police have difficulty to reach that village as the unpaved road was badly damaged.

The armed criminals apparently dug big holes in the road to hamper mobility of both the villagers and patrolling police, he said.

"If police tried to use the road they would be an easy target like a sitting duck for snipers hiding behind the jungle trees," he said.

The nearest police station to Banti is at Utikini Lama around one kilometer away, he said.

Source: ANTARA News

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