Indonesia: Bomb goes off at Freeport

Updated On: Sep 16, 2008

A bomb explosion went off near a privately-owned US mining conglomerate Freeport (Head office McMoRan) airport Indonesia's Papua province on 14 September 2008 Sunday at 10 pm.

The incident occurred without casualties and follows on the heels of a recent mortar explosion. Plumes of smoke rose up to 15 metres and split walls in residential areas several kilometres away.

Freeport has been running copper and gold mines in Papua and its presence has not been universally welcomed by the locals. The company has been accused of shortchanging the local community, causing pollution and violated human rights (as it is guarded and protected by the military). All such charges have been swept aside by the company.

Besides the mortar attack, the area has experienced a series of attacks on foreigners. Two American teachers were shot dead during an ambush near the mine in 2002. The attack was shrouded in mystery. US working with Indonesian investigators concluded that Papuan rebels were behind the attack, but local human rights groups disagreed and point their fingers to the Indonesian military for the killings.

Several views have emerged about the blast. According to one school of thought, the explosion may attributed to a weak and small separatist group known as the Free Papua Movement (OPM) which has been agitating for independence for a few decades. Others are unsure if the explosion is an industrial accident caused by the blowout of a power generator (6 km from the airport). Most do not know if this is linked to the recent mortar attack. Nevertheless, just to be sure, police have sealed off the compound.


AFP, "Explosion at airport in Indonesia's Papua: police" dated 15 September 2008 in the Google News website [downloaded on 15 September 2008], available athttp://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jQc-XroZUWILYuxE97NQMKPPI3Vw

Channelnewasia, "Explosion at airport in Indonesia's Papua province " dated 15 September 2008 [downloaded on 15 September  2008], available at

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