Gunmen attack mine helicopter
Timika - Gunmen attacked a helicopter carrying 29 workers and family members from Freeport-McMoRan's trouble-plagued gold and copper mine in eastern Indonesian, wounding one person on Saturday, officials said.
The attack came as thousands of unionised employees were preparing to return to the Grasberg mine in the mountains of Papua province following a three-month strike that has crippled production at the sprawling operation.
Though the 8 000 striking workers were supposed to be back on the job on Saturday after management agreed to a 37% pay hike, union spokesperson Juli Parorrongan said plans were pushed back at the last minute so that the two sides could iron out all the details.
It was not immediately clear who was behind Saturday's attack or what the motive may have been.
Those on the Hevilift chopper did not appear to be tied to the work stoppage.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire minutes after liftoff from the mining town of Tembagapura, said police spokesperson Colonel Wachjono.
With only slight damage to the body of the aircraft, the Russian pilots were able to continue on to Timika, where they landed safely.
Mary Jane Mather, the Filipino wife of one of the employees, was being treated for shrapnel wounds, another police officer said.
The Phoenix-based Freeport - which had hoped the end of the three-month strike would spell the end of trouble at its Grasberg mine - said a full investigation would be carried out into the attack.
Parorrongan, the union representative, meanwhile, said he hoped the striking workers would be back to their jobs "soon", possibly by the middle of next week.
The two sides were still ironing out the details of their return, such as how to mobilise those who live far from the mining town and getting a guarantee that those who took part in the strike would not face any sanctions, he said.