3 police officers killed in protest in Indonesian Papua province

Protesters beat three police officers to death after clashes broke out during a demonstration Thursday to demand the closure of a U.S.-owned gold mine in Papua province, police and witnesses said.

Two nearby hospitals reported at least 19 people were injured, many with gunshot wounds.

The killings took place on the third day of violent protests in Papua against the mine run by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., and will sharply raise tensions in the region, which is also home to a popular separatist rebellion.

The demonstrators cornered two of the officers and beat them with sticks and stones near a major university in the provincial capital of Jayapura, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

Col. Kertono Wangsadisastra said two of the dead men were members of the police's paramilitary unit, while the third, who was earlier listed as an unidentified person, was a regular officer in the province, reports the AP.

I.L.

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