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Australian shot dead at US mine in Indonesia: police

world Updated: Jul 11, 2009 09:28 IST
AFP
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An Australian working for the Indonesian subsidiary of US-based mining giant Freeport McMoRan was shot dead by unknown attackers on Saturday in restive Papua province, police said.

Indonesian police spokesman Nanan Soekarna identified the victim as mining technician Drew Grant, and said he was shot in the neck as he travelled in a car with five others on a road between Tembagapura and Timika.

Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI) spokesman Mindo Pangaribuan said several employees were travelling in a vehicle outside the company's mining operations area when they were attacked.

"Shots were fired at a Freeport Indonesia vehicle, fatally wounding an employee who was a passenger in the vehicle. Other passengers were not injured," he said, without naming the victim.

"PT-FI is cooperating fully with the police investigation and deeply regrets the loss of an employee."

He said regular and special anti-terror squad police were at the scene of the incident, in the resource-rich but undeveloped eastern province of Papua, and had "provided additional security in the area".

The attack occurred in Freeport's vast concession area, which includes the massive Grasberg gold and copper mine, police said.

Two American teachers and an Indonesian colleague who worked at the mine were shot dead in an ambush near the site in 2002.

US and Indonesian investigators found that Papuan separatist rebels were behind that attack, but local rights groups have long maintained the military had a hand in the killings.

Freeport McMoRan pays Indonesian troops to protect Grasberg, despite regulations requiring the military to hand over security tasks to police.

Earlier this year the US miner disclosed that its Indonesian subsidiary had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to police and soldiers around Grasberg in 2008.

That was part of eight million dollars Freeport paid in broader "support costs" for 1,850 police and soldiers protecting the site last year, according to a company report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Indonesia's military denies it received any such payments.
Freeport Indonesia is the largest single taxpayer to the Indonesian government.

Grasberg sits on the world's largest gold and copper reserves on the far eastern extreme of the Indonesian archipelago.

Pro-independence militants have waged a long-running insurgency against Indonesian rule in Papua, which is off-limits to foreign journalists without special permission.