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Top security alert imposed, violence flares up in E. Java SURABAYA - As police called for a top security alert throughout the country amid the heightened tension between members of the political elite, riots hit several towns of East Java province on Monday when thousands of self-proclaimed supporters of President Abdurrahman Wahid rampaged at public facilities, schools and offices of opposing political parties.
National Police chief contoller of patrols, Brig. Gen. Sylvanus Wenas announced the full alert as he inspected the readiness of police officers posted in the compound of the House of Representatives in Senayan, Central Jakarta. Meanwhile, East Java, the President's stronghold, had been declared as subject to top security alert status since last Friday. More violence hit several towns in the province, involving the mobs claiming to be supporters of embattled President Abdurrahman, who is at the brink of impeachment.
They rampaged school buildings, burned the offices of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the United Development Party, put up road blocks and vandalized public facilities. Those incidents erupted at almost the same time, between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. On Monday afternoon, a total of 30 people were arrested by the Pasuruan and Sidoarjo police in relation to the violence, according to chief of operations and control of the East Java police Sr. Comr. Sabur W.S.
"The people were arrested in Pasuruan and Sidoarjo, but they have all been handed over to East Java police for further questioning," he told reporters in Surabaya. There were no reports yet of injuries, despite the damage caused by the fierce protests. In Sidoarjo, thousands of people arriving on a number of trucks went to a Muhammadiyah school compound where they threw stones at the building. They were armed with sickles, axes and sticks.
Hundreds of high school students who were sitting their nationwide final examinations, ran out of their classrooms in fear. Hundreds of personnel from the local Mobile Brigade police and the infantry battalion came later, firing warning shots to disperse the angry people in order to prevent further violence. The attackers also clashed with security personnel, during which a vehicle used by the rioters was seriously damaged.
In Pasuruan, similar destructive action also took place. Around 50 motorcyclists suddenly entered the compound of Muhammadiyah schools in Bangil district and shattered windows and set ablaze the furniture and other items inside the schools' cooperative shop. Muhammadiyah was once chaired by Amien Rais, chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), a staunch critic of the President. Amien is still regarded as a central figure in the Muslim organization.
Still in Pasuruan, groups of people, armed with sickles and sticks, torched the office building of the local chapter of PDI Perjuangan. Police personnel fired warning shots to disperse the crowd. In total, at least three PDI Perjuangan offices and posts were damaged in the town. Meanwhile in the early hours of Monday, the residence of M. Chozin, treasurer at the local PAN in Mulyasari, East Surabaya, was hit by firecrackers and homemade Molotov cocktails. The terrace, roof and the windows of the house were broken.
"My neighbors spotted that three people in a passing Opel Blazer did that (the attacks). They accelerated away after the explosives hit my house," Chozin said. Antara reported that in other parts of the province such as Jember and Pamekasan, thousands of Abdurrahman's supporters held protests against the calls for a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly. In other major cities throughout the country, as in the capital of West Java, Bandung, the capital city of Bali, Denpasar, in Yogyakarta and also in Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi the security situation was relatively calm.
In Jakarta, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Didi Widayadi told reporters that should chaotic situations occur, police would "systematically use tear gas and if rioters still continued and the situation worsened, police would not hesitate to use rubber bullets ... and later live bullets." No significant incidents occurred in the capital in connection with the President's announcement of the executive order.
Separately, the chief of Indonesian Military (TNI), Adm. Widodo Adisucipto, said his troops were also in a state of readiness to back up police throughout the country. He also called on the political leaders to "issue statements that will not drive their supporters to react with anarchic actions." "Show statesmanlike behavior because that's what is needed (from them) now by their followers," Widodo added.



Posted in Violence @ 29 May 2001 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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