Jakarta – Authorities in Papua have reported that a civilian turbine engine aircraft was shot by members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) upon landing at Beoga Airport in Puncak regency, Central Papua, on Friday morning.
Sr. Comr. Donny Charles Go, spokesperson for the Cartenz Peace Operation, said the shots tore holes in the plane but that there had been no injuries.
"A joint Indonesian Military [TNI]-National Police team have secured the area. The plane has returned to Timika [in the provincial capital of Mimika]," Donny told Tempo.
Airport authorities secured the plane's pilot, identified as Jonatan, after the incident.
The attack is part of a string of attacks on aircrafts in the restive Papua region over the past months.
On Feb. 7, the OPM's armed wing, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), attacked a Susi Air aircraft and captured New Zealand national pilot Phillip Mehrtens and several Indonesian passengers shortly after the plane landed at an airstrip in Nduga, Papua Highlands province. The Indonesian passengers were later released, but Mehrtens has been held hostage since.
The group, led by Egianus Kogoya, has demanded that Jakarta recognize Papuan independence in return for Mehrtens' release. It has also sought to use the ongoing hostage crisis to internationalize its cause.
On Jan. 9, a Caravan aircraft operated by PT Ikaros was shot at as it was approaching the runway at Oksibil Airport in Gunung Bintang regency, Papua Highlands province, and was forced to cancel the landing.
On March 7, a cargo plane operated by PT Smart Aviation was also shot on its approach to the runway, causing the pilot to abort the landing.
On March 11, a twin-engine plane operated by PT Trigana Air was shot during takeoff from Nop Goliat Airport in Yahukimo regency, Papua Highlands. (dre)