UCA News


Suspected Papuan rebels kill New Zealander

Two other people were injured during a raid on offices of mining firm Freeport Indonesia

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Suspected Papuan rebels kill New Zealander

Papuan rebels pose for a photograph in an undisclosed location in Papua in this file image. An armed rebel group has claimed responsibility for an attack on gold and copper mining firm Freeport Indonesia in Papua on March 30, killing a New Zealand national and injuring two Indonesians. (Photo from Facebook of West Papua National Liberation Army)

Share this article :
A New Zealander was shot dead and two other people were injured in an attack claimed by separatist rebels on the offices of a mining company in Indonesia’s Papua province.

Graeme Thomas Wall, 57, an employee of Freeport Indonesia, died after being shot in the chest during the attack on March 30 at the company’s giant gold and copper mine near Timika, the capital of Mimika Regency, according to police.

"There were about eight attackers. According to witnesses, they carried long-barreled weapons,” Antara news agency quoted regency police chief Gusti Gede Era Adhinata as saying. 

He said six security personnel guarding the building prevented the attackers from shooting more people.

The two injured employees, Jibril Bahar, 49, and Ucok Simanungkalit, 57, were in stable condition in hospital, he said.

Police and army units were combing the area to try and catch the perpetrators. "We are conducting large-scale sweeps in areas where they could be holed up," Adhinata  said.

A rebel group later claimed responsibility for the attack. West Papua National Liberation Army spokesman Sebby Sambom took to social media to demand the closure of the company.

"If employees are still working there, then we will shoot," he said on the group’s official Facebook page. "Employees must leave the company.” 

The attack adds to a long list of violent incidents in the area, where rebel groups demanding self-determination have carried out previous attacks around the mine and on security forces with connections to it.

On March 22, rebels reportedly fired at military-owned aircraft carrying building materials in Pegunungan Bintang district.

Father John Djonga, a human rights defender in Papua, condemned the attack and called on rebels and security forces to exercise restraint amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"The world today, including the Papua region, is being attacked by this virus," he said. "I hope that all parties consider this situation first, regardless of their interests. The safety of others must be a primary consideration.” 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."