Civilian airplane shot while landing in Papua


JAKARTA: Security forces in Papua reported that a civilian turbine engine aircraft was shot by members of an armed criminal group upon landing at the Sinak Airport in Puncak regency, Central Papua, on Monday (July 8).

Sr Comr Bayu Suseno, the spokesperson for the joint police-military Cartenz Peace Operation task force, said that the shooting targeted a Smart Air flight under registration number PK-SNH. The flight, which carried five passengers, came under fire at around 11:40am local time.

“The plane landed and the passengers disembarked safely. No casualties [were reported] in the incident,” Bayu said on Monday, as quoted by Antara.

He added that some of the shots hit the plane’s propeller but caused no significant damage to the aircraft.

About 15 minutes after the incident, a second civilian airplane from NGA airline that came from Timika landed safely at Sinak Airport.

“Once the situation was safe, the Smart Air and NGA airplanes returned to their original destinations of Nabire and Mimika,” Bayu said.

He added that the armed group also fired shots at a logistics warehouse of the Army Infantry Battalion (Yonif) 751 located near the airport. Authorities guarding the location returned fire against the armed group.

“After the shooting, the joint force immediately chased the group,” said Bayu. A spokesperson for the Free Papua Movement (OPM) armed wing of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), confirmed that the group was behind the shooting in Sinak.

“We shot the civilian airplane at Sinak Airport because it carried Indonesian military personnel and logistics,” spokesperson Sebby Sambom said on Tuesday, as quoted by Tempo.

The Sinak incident added to a long list of gunfights between armed groups and security forces amid an escalation in shootings in Papua in the past decade.

Shootings broke out in almost every province in the country’s easternmost island. The latest incident occurred in February, when a Wings Air aircraft came under fire when landing at Nop Goliat Dekai Airport in Yahukimo regency, Papua highlands on Feb 17.

No casualties were reported in the incident, although a passenger suffered from a neck injury after being hit by fragments from the impact. - The Jakarta Post/ANN

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