A Trigana Air Boeing 737-500 aircraft was shot at twice, both upon landing and take-off, as it operated Nop Goliat Dekai Airport (DEX), in the interior of the New Guinea island.
The first shots were followed by a ground inspection, which cleared the aircraft for departure to the provincial capital, Jayapura (DJJ), with 66 passengers onboard. However, during take-off, the aircraft was targeted again by gunfire, and a bullet penetrated the fuselage, hitting one of the seats, and resulting in one passenger being lightly injured by splinters.
Rebels of the so-called West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB) claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that the aircraft was transporting Indonesian security and armed forces personnel.
Indonesian authorities later arrested seven people in relation to this attack, although the rebels denied any link to them.
The western half of New Guinea has seen political turmoil since Indonesia took over control from the Dutch colonizers in the 1960s, with several separatist movements active throughout the province.
A Pilatus PC-6 pilot from New Zealand has been held captive by the insurgents since early 2023. He was made to appear in a video that has since made headlines around the world, reading a political declaration with some of the separatists’ demands.
At least two of the airlines serving the airport, Trigana Air and Wings Air, have stopped indefinitely all flights to and from the affected airport until the security situation is clarified.