Another Papua police death 

An Indonesian police officer was reportedly shot dead in the latest alleged attack by militants near the vast gold and copper Grasberg mine in Indonesian Papua.

Another officer was wounded in the attack on a patrol near the Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan mine, announced Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal.

A helicopter flew the men to a hospital in nearby Timika.

The 127-km main access road to Grasberg remained closed, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama told the media. The road links Timika to the mining town of Tembagapura.

The National Liberation Army of West Papua, linked to the Free Papua Movement, has declared the area around the mine a battlefield and occupied two villages.

One paramilitary police officer was reportedly killed and six others wounded in attacks last month, although Jakarta restricts media access to the troubled provinces of West Papua and Papua.

The western half of the giant island of New Guinea was transferred from Dutch to Indonesian rule in 1963. It was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 following a UN-sponsored vote by tribal leaders that has been dismissed as a fix.

Military chief Gatot Nurmantyo said: “The Indonesian military and police have urged the Armed Separatist Movement in Papua to surrender, but until now no one has turned themselves in. Armed separatists cannot be left alone,” he said, adding that “emergency measures” were being prepared.

Freeport, the second-biggest copper mine in the world, has periodically suffered arson, roadside attacks and blockades since work began in the 1970s.

On the national scale, Indonesia’s trade deficit shrank last month with double-digit growth in the value of both exports and imports.

Exports reached US$15.1 billion in October, up 18.4 per cent on October 2016 and marking an increase of 3.6 per cent on September, according to Statistics Indonesia, while 16.6-per-cent median growth was forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Imports also shot up in October, up 23.3 per cent year on year and rising 11 per cent from September to US$14.2 billion.

A trade surplus of US$900 million was reported last month.

Indonesia’s military say it is preparing to step up operations. Picture credit: Wikimedia