Members of an Indonesian police elite anti-terror unit board a bus to be deployed to the site where an explosion went off near a massive mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. in Timika, Papua province, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. Two suspected bombs went off early Friday near the mining facilities, police said. No one was injured and there was little damage. (AP Photo/Andreas Marianno M.)
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Two small bombs exploded early Friday on a road leading to a massive copper and gold mine in eastern Indonesia and a third unexploded mortar was found nearby, police said. No one was injured and there was little damage.
The near-simultaneous explosions near the mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. targeted a bridge and a nearby security post 10 miles from the Grasberg mine in Papua province, said PT Freeport Indonesia spokesman Mindo Pangaribuan.
He refused to elaborate until a police investigation was complete. “We can only say that the incident did not disturb our operations,” he said. “Things are running normally.”
Papua is home to separatist rebels who have long denounced the mine as a symbol of Jakarta’s rule over the region and were blamed for a 2004 attack on the same road that left two Americans dead. Indonesian security forces hired by Freeport were initially suspected of taking part in those killings to extort higher protection payments from the New Orleans-based company.
“An unidentified group was trying to attack Freeport’s facilities,” said military Lt. Col. Tri Suseno, as more than a dozen members of the country’s elite anti-terrorism unit arrived, discovering a third unexploded mortar under a bridge.
Police chief Maj. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto said a little-known group calling itself the West Papua National Army had circulated pamphlets in recent days demanding the mine’s closure, but that it was not yet clear if the events were related.
“We’re still investigating,” he said.
The Grasberg mining complex is one of the world’s largest single producers of copper and gold, the company says on its Web site. It says that open-pit mining at the site began in 1990 and is expected to continue until mid-2015.
The mine has seen violent worker protests in the past, and environmental groups accuse the company of alleged pollution and stripping the desperately poor province of its natural resources.
Indonesia tightly controls journalists’ access to the province and Freeport routinely turns down requests to visit the sprawling mine.