Hundreds of workers at an Indonesian copper and gold mine run by Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc protested on Friday after the killing of two colleagues, which heightened concern about security along the jungle road they need to take to work.
Local police said two men had died inside a burning car on Thursday, a day after two other people were wounded in a shooting near the huge mine in Papua, a province with a simmering separatist movement.
On Thursday, Freeport said in a statement: “Initial reports from police indicated that the vehicle appears to have been fired upon.” Police would not comment on whether the men had been shot at.
Freeport said production at the mine continued as normal.
“Several employees expressed their grief and solidarity in a peaceful manner and operational activity is normal,” Jakarta-based Freeport spokesman Ramdani Sirait said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters on Friday.
The police said they would beef up security in the area.
“We will scour the area … We can’t underestimate this,” the area’s deputy police chief, Mada Laksanta, told Reuters.
The mine has been a frequent source of friction in Papua because of its environmental impact, the low share of revenue going to local Papuans and the legality of payments to Indonesian security forces who help guard the site.
In 2002, two American teachers and an Indonesian companion were killed in an ambush outside the Freeport installation.
Previous deadly attacks blamed on separatists have generally been unsophisticated and the movement is poorly armed. The military and police generally keep a tight rein on the province.