Reporters Without Borders

Journalist killed as gunmen attack plane at Papua province airport

Journalist killed as gunmen attack plane at Papua province airport

Published on Wednesday 11 April 2012.
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Reporters Without Borders offers its condolences to the family and friends of Leiron Kogoya, a journalist with the newspapers Pasific Post and Papua Pos Nabire, part of the Pacific Post group, who was killed in an attack by gunmen on a plane at Mulia airport in the province of Papua three days ago.

“Although the journalist did not appear to be the target of the attack, it illustrates the insecurity that prevails in the region, where at least two other journalists were killed late last year,” the press freedom organization said.

“Covering the Papua region is highly risky for journalists. Leiron Kogoya was among those courageous reporters who strive to keep the world informed about the region, which has been the scene of violent clashes. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends."

“We expect the authorities to shed light on the attack. Contradictory information about the identity of those behind the shooting said to have been provided by security forces to journalists indicates that an independent investigation must be carried out as soon as possible.”

The plane, a Twin Otter of the Indonesian airline Trigana Air, landed at Mulia at about 8 am when at least five gunmen opened fire. The pilot and co-pilot, who were both hit, lost control of the aircraft, which then crashed into one of the terminal buildings. Four people were wounded. Kogoya, was fatally shot in the neck.

The 35-year-old reporter was flying to Mulia in the Puncak Jaya district to cover local elections in the provincial capital, Jayapura.

Photo by: Agus Fakaubun

The news website westpapuamedia.info quoted the head of public relations for the Papua police, Commander Yohanes Nugroho Wicaksono, as saying the gunmen were hiding in the hills 50 metres from the airport. It said police had not yet been able to identify the perpetrators or the type of guns they used.

According to military intelligence, the separatist group Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, or OPM, in Indonesian) was behind the attack, while local police said they had no information about the identity of the attackers.

Indonesia is ranked 146th of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 world press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

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