Hunt Begins for Gunmen Who Machine-Gunned Plane in Papua
Jayapura. Police and soldiers of the Indonesian Armed Forces are combing the hills in Mulia, Papua, after gunmen sprayed an incoming commercial flight with bullets, killing one passenger and wounding four people on Sunday.
“Joint personnel from the police and Armed Forces [TNI] are going after the perpetrators, who ran into the mountains around the airport,” Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Yohanes said.
The search team included members of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) paramilitary police unit from the Puncak Jaya district police as well as soldiers from Batallion 7534 AVT based in Nabire.
Yohanes said a group of at least five men fired on a Trigana Air Twin Otter that had flown from Nabire and was about to land at the airport in Mulia town in Puncak Jaya district at around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“The pilot panicked and could not control the airplane so that it veered off the runway and hit a building,” Johanes said, adding that the plane struck a warehouse.
He said one person died in the incident while four others, including the pilot of the flight, Captain Beby Astek, were wounded during the crash.
The sole fatality was Leiron Kogoya, a journalist working for Papua Pos, who was shot in the neck.
“Leiron Kogoya was our journalist who had worked in Puncak Jaya. He had been assigned there for a year,” said Angel Berta Sinaga, the chief editor of the Papua Pos.
Angel also said that Leiron was a native of Puncak Jaya and added that his family had already claimed the body.
Yohanes said that other injuries were sustained by co-pilot Willy Resumun, a 4-year-old boy and the boy’s mother.
The spokesman also said police were combing the airport for clues and evidence, adding that the airport was not closed since it did not have that many flights to begin with.
“The airplane’s fuel tank was hit by a bullet but did not explode,” said a Trigana Air employee who refused to be identified.
The wounded pilot and co-pilot were flown to Jayapura with the help of another Trigana Air Twin Otter plane, said Bustomi, who heads the Jayapura office of the airline.
They were transported to the Dian Harapan Waena hospital, he said, adding that the wounds did not appear to be too serious.
“We are temporarily halting all flights to and from Mulia, and we will wait for the situation to become more conducive to everyone’s safety,” Bustomi said.
He also called for better security at the airport, especially since the town was dependent on flights for needed supplies.
The airport has experienced several recent shootings, the last one injuring the local police chief in October.