Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Armed criminal groups (KKB) that had caused security disturbances in several areas in Papua are currently not only targeting security forces and civilians on the ground but also civil aviation.

Since January 2023, four recorded cases of security disturbances had targeted the aviation sector in Papua, particularly in the Highland and Central Papua provinces.

Four cases of security disturbances to the aviation sector that occurred in various regions in Papua began on January 9, 2023. A Caravan PK-HVV aircraft of PT Ikaros was shot at when it was about to land at Oksibil Airport, Gunung Bintang District, Papua Highland Province.

The plane was shot at during a go-around, and it resulted in a hole punctured at the bottom of the fuselage. Go-around is a maneuver to cancel landing in the event of something unplanned occurring.

Thereafter, on February 7, a Susi Air Pilatus PC-6 Porter aircraft, with registration number PK-BVY, was set on fire at the Paro Airfield, Nduga District, Papua Highland. The pilot, Philip Mark Martenz, is still being held hostage by the KKB.

Another incident occurred on March 7 when a cargo plane of PT Smart Aviation was shot at during a go-around. The plane then aborted the landing.

The last incident took place on March 11 when a Type B737-500 passenger plane, with registration PK-YSC, belonging to PT Trigana Air, was shot at during takeoff from Nop Goliat Airport, Dekai, Yahukimo District, Papua Highland, and resulted in a hole at the bottom of the plane’s fuselage.

Chairman of the Indonesian Pilots Association (IPI), Captain Rama Noya, regretted the shooting on civil aviation planes in Papua since most of the people's needs, such as food, medicines, clothing, and also fuel for lighting, were fulfilled through the use of planes.

"Dependence on civil aviation in Papua is quite high, so the Papuan people must participate in protecting it," Noya stated.

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Papua Police Chief Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri affirmed that he would guarantee the operational security of Nop Goliat Dekai Airport by increasing the number of troops to secure the area.

He stated that the National Police (Polri) and Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) have increased the number of special personnel to strengthen security at Dekai Airport.

The head of Yahukimo District also requested for a security post in the southern part or at the end of the runway to secure the take-off and landing route, Fakhiri remarked.

His side is also ready to deploy personnel around the suspected area where KKB is allegedly using it as a location to shoot planes that are about to land or fly from Dekai Airport.

The Papuan Police earlier sought support from the National Police Headquarters to receive reinforcement assistance from the Mobile Brigade. For the initial stage, 143 personnel will arrive and be stationed at Dekai Airport to support the airport’s operations to return to normal, considering that until now, there is no scheduled commercial aircraft operating at the airport.

Apart from increasing the number of troops, the security forces are actively conducting patrols not only around the Dekai Airport area but also in residential areas.

"It is hoped that the patrols carried out by the TNI-Polri can provide a sense of security for the community to help them to return to normal activities,” Fakhiri stated.

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Pre-flight coordination
Military Resort Commander 172 Brigadier General J. O. Sembiring is optimistic that all airlines, especially those flying to vulnerable villages or districts, would be able to receive information related to security in that area, especially for airports with no security personnel, since only small-bodied aircraft, such as Cessna or Pilatus, land there.

To this end, coordination is deemed necessary to relay information regarding the area’s safety, he emphasized.

"Security officers must be placed at every airport, for example, in Timika, Dekai, Oksibil, and others, so that they can be coordinated before flying to villages or districts where there are no TNI or Polri personnel. This to avoid security disturbance,” Sembiring stated.

The shooting down of a Boeing 737-500 aircraft belonging to Trigana Air on Saturday, March 3, not only led to Trigana Air but also Wings Air temporarily halting flight services to Dekai.

Until now, the two airlines that have been serving flights on the Jayapura-Dekai-Jayapura route decided to halt operations, as they are waiting for the situation to be completely safe.

It is not yet known when the two companies that earlier served flights once a day will resume operations, Sentani Airport Public Relations officer in Jayapura District Surya Eka stated.

Captain Noya remarked that the various acts of violence experienced by the aviation sector in Papua were included in a bulletin published by the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association (IFALPA), which is an international organization of national pilots' associations based in Canada.

Hence, he appealed to all parties to look after and protect pilots and civil aviation in Papua.

Security disturbances against pilots and civil aviation in Papua must be stopped in order to maintain the flow of goods' distribution needed by the community.

The Indonesian Pilots Association (IPI) made the following proclamation:

1. Call on all parties and the people of Papua to maintain and protect civil aviation for the development and welfare of the people.

2. In accordance with Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 1 of 2009 concerning Aviation, especially aviation security, IPI requests the Indonesian Government to carry out national aviation security, especially in Papua.

3. In accordance with Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) 135.555 and Article 55 of the Republic of Indonesia Aviation Law, IPI supports all decisions taken by pilots in command if they experience a threat that endangers the safety of life and goods being transported.

4. In accordance with IPI's recommendations regarding the implementation of aviation security in Papua in 2022, the association encourages the Indonesian Government to strengthen security in airports, airfield, and airstrip areas.

These various steps and policies are solely implemented to ensure the security and safety of Papuan people.

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Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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