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Shootout kills policeman in Indonesia's Papua


A gunfight in Indonesia's restive Papua province killed one police officer and wounded an unidentified man on Tuesday, police said.

The shootout between police and an unknown group of gunmen occurred at around 8:00 am (2300 GMT Monday) near Timika town in the operational area of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan.

"A police officer named Ronald Sopamena was shot dead on patrol in the area," provincial police spokesman Wachyono said.

One of the gunmen was shot and had been taken to hospital for treatment, he added.

The incident is the latest in a spate of attacks around Freeport's Grasberg mine -- which holds the world's largest gold and second-largest copper reserves -- since a three-month workers' strike began in September.

The strike by more than 8,000 of the mine's 23,000 workers officially ended in mid-December with a 37 percent hike on wages starting from $1.50 (Dh 5.5) an hour.

At least 11 people, all Indonesians, have been killed around the mine in ambush attacks and clashes with police since the strike began.

Clashes with police and military are common in the Papuan region, where poorly armed separatist groups have for decades fought a low-level insurgency for the mostly ethnic Melanesian population.

Indonesian forces are accused of torture and other human rights abuses in Papua. Jakarta denies the allegations but refuses to allow foreign media or aid workers into the region to conduct independent inquiries.