American employee fatally shot near Freeport mine in Indonesia, officials say

By Niniek Karmini, AP
Saturday, July 11, 2009

American shot dead at Freeport mine in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Unknown assailants shot and killed a 29-year-old American working at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s mine in Indonesia’s restive Papua province on Saturday.

The employee died after “a shot was fired” at a vehicle near the mine at dawn, Freeport said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Freeport did not identify the victim but a company employee — who was not authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity — said it was an American mechanical engineer.

Papua, a desperately poor and militarized province on Indonesia’s easternmost tip, is home to separatist rebels who denounce PT Freeport as a symbol of Jakarta’s rule. After years of relative quiet there has been a series of fatal incidents in recent months.

Two American schoolteachers were killed in an ambush at the site in 2002 that was initially blamed on Indonesian security forces. Security was raised around the mine Saturday and anti-terrorism police were investigating the shooting, Freeport said.

Mining activities were not disrupted, said company spokesman Mindo Pangaribuan.

The operation has been a continuous source of friction with local Papuans angered over the outflow of profit to foreign investors, while they remain poor. Freeport has extracted billions of dollars in gold from the mine.

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