Armed Papuan criminals torch civilian helicopter at Ilaga Airport

Armed Papuan criminals torch civilian helicopter at Ilaga Airport

Several armed Papuan criminals torched a parked PT Ersa Air helicopter awaiting repair at the Ilaga Airport in Puncak District, Papua Province, on Sunday evening.

“As a result, the forward hull of the helicopter caught fire,” Ilaga Airport Head Herman Sujito noted in a statement that ANTARA quoted here, Monday.

The ill-fated helicopter was parked at the airport since March 31, 2021, whilst awaiting the arrival of necessary spare parts to solve its engine problem, he noted.

Papua Police Chief Insp. Gen. Mathius Fakhiri confirmed that armed Papuan criminals had attempted to set ablaze a civilian helicopter at the Ilaga Airport.

Following the incident, the current situation at the airport is relatively secure and peaceful, but police officers stationed there are ordered to remain on standby, he stated.

Over these past four months, ANTARA noted that armed Papuan criminals had launched two attacks on civilian aircraft.

On January 6, 2021, some 10 armed Papuans had vandalized and torched a Quest Kodiak aircraft belonging to the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) at the Pagamba village airstrip.

The armed men, led by Sabinus Waker, reportedly set the utility aircraft ablaze shortly after its American pilot Alek Luferchek disembarked two passengers, Commander of the Cenderawasih Military Command, Maj. Gen. Ignatius Yogo Triyono, had stated in January.

The torching of the civilian aircraft, bearing registration number PK-MAX, was a brutal act since MAF planes were engaged in a decades-long noble mission for Papuan communities, he stated.

Triyono admitted that no Indonesian soldiers were stationed around Pagamba Village in Mbiandoga Sub-district, Intan Jaya District, though personnel were posted in Sugapa Sub-district.

In connection with the incident, Luferchek, the aircraft’s pilot, had informed Papuan police officers that his aircraft was torched by about 10 men carrying assault rifles and guns.

The armed men suddenly emerged from some bushes soon after Luferchek landed the plane at the Pagamba village airstrip at around 9:30 a.m. local time.

According to the Papua police citing Luferchek’s statement, several residents fled to save their lives after spotting the armed men walking towards the aircraft.

The armed men reportedly ordered the American pilot to disembark from the utility aircraft.

Pointing their rifles and guns at him, the men ordered Luferchek to sit on the ground.

The men thereafter unloaded the aircraft’s cargo of food and then vandalized the plane and set it ablaze, but this 32-year-old pilot had managed to escape the attackers. (ANT)

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