TIMIKA, Indonesia — An Indonesian police officer was shot dead Monday in the latest deadly attack in eastern Indonesia's restive Papua province, police said.
Mulia city police chief Dominggus Awes was at the local airport, southwest of the provincial capital Jayapura, when two men began beating him, grabbed his gun and shot him with it, Papua police spokesman Wachyono told AFP.
"They punched him, took his pistol and shot him in the neck and face, hitting his nose. He was taken to a hospital and later died from his injuries," he said.
Police blamed the incident on the region's separatists, mostly poorly armed indigenous Melanesians who have fought a low-level insurgency for decades.
"We are still chasing the attackers. We believe they are separatists trying to steal weapons from security forces for their group," he said.
Indonesia is accused of torture and other gross human rights abuses in Papua at the hands of the police and military.
Jakarta denies the allegations but refuses to allow foreign media or aid workers into the region to conduct independent inquiries.
Five Papuans were found dead after Indonesian security forces stormed a pro-independence assembly, firing warning shots and tear gas and beating participants last week in Abepura town, outside Jayapura.
Police said they fired shots into the air when a group of Papuan leaders declared independence and raised the separatist Morning Star flag.
At least seven people have been killed in violent attacks during a long workers strike at a giant gold and copper mine run by US company Freeport McMoRan.