Timika: Gunmen shot and killed three miners in the latest attack near the world`s largest gold mine in eastern Indonesia, officials said on Saturday. Attackers also fired on a patrol car wounded en route to investigate, wounding a soldier and a civilian guard.
Four Indonesian miners, who worked for the US company Freeport, were hit by unknown gunmen as their car travelled along a road to the mining complex on Friday in restive Papua province, local deputy police chief Major Mada Indra Laksanta said.
The attackers also set their car ablaze, he said.
Hours later, gunshots were fired at a patrol car trying to approach the burned car. A soldier and a civilian guard were wounded.
Police found the bodies of three miners near their car, and they are still searching for another miner unaccounted for.
Friday`s shooting came less than a week after Indonesian security forces fired on striking workers at the one of world`s largest gold and copper mine, killing one and injuring more than a dozen other people.
But police declined to link Friday`s shooting with the workers strike that kicked off on September 15. The strikers are demanding that their pay, which ranges from USD 2.10 to USD 3.50 per hour, be increased to between USD 17.50 and USD 43 per hour.
"We do not want to speculate before the investigation complete," Laksanta said, adding that police and soldiers are hunting down the attackers from both sides of the road.
Freeport`s Indonesian spokesman Ramdani Sirait said that the company was deeply saddened by the loss of lives of their workers in many incidents recently and continues to cooperate with the police investigation.
The attack was the latest in a string of ambushes on the road to the mine. Attacks on it have claimed eight lives since July 2009, including an Australian technician.
Early last year, a convoy from the mine was ambushed and an American, four policemen and two civilians were wounded.
The mine, run by a subsidiary of the Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc, has been repeatedly targeted with arson, roadside bombs and blockades since production began in the impoverished province of Papua in the 1970s.
The region also has a low-level insurgency that seeks independence from the Indonesian government.