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Search for perpetrators in Papuan jungle
AFAR
9/2/2002 2:36:00 PM

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JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Hundreds of police and military personnel are on a search for the perpetrators of an attack on international workers in the Papuan jungle.

Two American teachers and an Indonesian national were killed and 10 others injured in the attack, which occurred on a road leading to a US-owned copper and gold mine in the remote Indonesian province of Papua, formerly called Irian Jaya.

Eight are wounded, including a 6-year-old girl, and have been taken to Townsville hospital in northern Australia where they are reportedly in stable condition.

Indonesian security forces have already clashed with gunmen in the region since the convoy ambush, killing one man in a firefight.

Although there are no known motives and no group has claimed responsibility, the attackers are believed by Indonesian authorities to be from the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM), which might have struck due to reports of a looming crackdown by Jakarta on separatist activity in the region.

The OPM does not recognize the United Nations' 1969 ratification of the integration of the province into Indonesia.

Separatists have been battling Indonesian forces intermittently for about 40 years following the integration of the region by Indonesia in 1961.

Victims of the attack were working for companies contracted to provide services to the Freeport mine, which employs more than 14,000 people either directly or via contract companies.

The Freeport mine, situated in the north of the province, has been a focus for resentment among Papuans who oppose Indonesian rule.

The US government had offered to help in the investigation.

The search will continue for at least one week or until security is completely restored, according to a Jakarta Post report.

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