Benny Mawel, Jayapura – An Indonesian Air Force CASA CN A-2909 plane was shot at by a faction of the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) while flying over Serambakon district in Pegunungan Bintang regency, Papua, at 4,800 feet on Monday.
The plane, which had taken off from Jayapura, was shot at on Monday at 8:50 a.m. local time.
"The plane managed to land in the capital of Pegunungan Bintang, Oksibil, but five holes were found on the plane's body," Cenderawasih Military Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Eko Daryanto said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com. Eko said the plane was not heavily damaged and could still function.
The TPNPB took responsibility through its spokesperson, Sebby Sambom, who resides in Papua New Guinea.
"The headquarters of TPNPB is responsible for the shooting. This war will continue," Sebby said in a press release seen by The Jakarta Post on Monday. He claimed that the plane had been transporting military and police personnel to Oksibil.
Sila Papare Airfield commander Air Commodore Tri Bowo, however, said the plane was carrying 3 tons of foodstuff and other materials owned by the Pegunungan Bintang regency administration.
Eko said this was not the first shooting to take place in Pegunungan Bintang recently. On March 2, trucks belonging to a state-owned enterprise were shot at by an armed group in Oksop district.
Papua has seen an escalating number of shootings since the beginning of the year. Shootings happened in several regions, such as Nduga regency, Intan Jaya, Mimika, Pegunungan Bintang and Keerom.
Cenderawasih Military Command deputy head Lt. Col. Inf Dax Sianturi said he believed the armed groups were conducting the shootings to thwart two national events that would be held in Papua this year, namely the regional elections and the National Games (PON). (aly)