World News

Freeport Indonesia closes mine access road again after shooting

TIMIKA, Indonesia (Reuters) - The Indonesian unit of Freeport-McMoRan Inc closed the main access road to its giant copper mine in the eastern province of Papua on Tuesday for the second time in three days after another shooting incident.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Grasberg copper and gold mine operated by an Indonesian subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan Inc, situated 4,285 meters above sea level, near Timika, Papua province, February 15, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/M Agung Rajasa/Antara Foto/File Photo

A Freeport vehicle was hit by gunfire while it was heading from Tembagapura to Ridge Camp, the company said in a statement, referring to an area where Freeport workers live.

One passenger in the vehicle “suffered a bullet wound to his thigh” but was in a stable condition at a local clinic, according to the statement.

Security services were at the scene investigating the incident, it said.

It is the second time the access road to the Grasberg mine has been closed since Sunday, and follows a string of shooting incidents since mid-August that have injured at least seven people and killed one police officer.

The violence has escalated security concerns around the mine to their highest level in more than five years.

The separatist West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), a group linked to the Free Papua Movement, has said it is at war with police, military and Freeport. It was not immediately clear if TPN-OPM were behind the latest shootings.

The employee of Puncak Jaya Power, a contractor for Freeport that provides power to the area, was travelling in a light vehicle, armoured with kevlar panels on the inside, and bulletproof windshields.

According to a statement from Papua Police, a mobile police brigade officer was escorting employees in a patrol car from Tembagapura at the time of the shooting.

The vehicle was shot more than four times by an “armed criminal group,” it said, and the security officer returned fire. A team of mobile police brigade officers has remained in the area to guard against further attacks, it said.

As of Tuesday evening, the road from Timika to Tembagapura remained closed.

Reporting by Sam Wanda in TIMIKA; Writing by Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA; Editing by Tom Hogue and Edmund Blair