Indonesia police say 2 dead, 2 missing in Papua attacks

JAYAPURA, Indonesia — Two people were killed and two are missing after gunmen attacked police and civilians in a mountainous region of Indonesia's easternmost Papua province during local elections, police said Thursday.

An official was killed Wednesday and two police officers are missing after gunmen shot at their speedboat, which was transporting them from Torere subdistrict where they observed local elections, said Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal.

Seven other police officers swam to safety. Separately, Kamal said a motorcycle taxi driver who was a migrant from Java died after being shot in the head in Waegi subdistrict on Wednesday.

A pro-independence insurgency has simmered in the formerly Dutch-controlled Papua region since it was annexed by Indonesia in 1963.

Police have pointed to regional-level elections held across Indonesia on Wednesday as a catalyst for this week's violence in Papua, but it's unclear if there's any connection. Indonesian security forces regularly clash with armed Papuans and are also accused of perpetrating violence against unarmed civilians in the region.

On Monday, gunmen killed three people and injured two others including a pilot in an attack that occurred after a plane transporting paramilitary police landed at Kenyam airport in Nduga district.

The civilians killed in the Monday attack were migrant traders from South Sulawesi province, including a husband and wife, who were shot and stabbed as the attackers fled the airport.

Under Indonesian rule, indigenous Papuans have been largely shut out of their region's economy, which is dominated by extraction of natural resources by Indonesian and foreign companies including the giant U.S.-owned Grasberg gold and copper mine.

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