Armed Villagers Besiege Police Station

October 01

Mataram. Villagers in Rambut Petung, West Lombok, have gone on the rampage outside a police station, throwing Molotov cocktails and using bows and arrows to demand the release of two men suspected of murder.

Hundreds of armed officers from the West Lombok Police and the West Nusa Tenggara elite Mobile Brigade division stood by with water cannons at the ready.

The villagers marched to the station on Wednesday night, demanding the release of Lebek and Sabri.

West Lombok Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Supriyanto talked to the group, urging them to let police do their job.

But the protesters started waving machetes at Agus and became more insistent that Lebek and Sabri be released.

Police fired warning shots to try to get the protesters to back off but this only serve to enrage them further.

Some of the demonstrators then blocked Jalan Raya Lembar, the only road leading to Lembar harbor, which is the arrival point for ferries from Padang Bai harbor in Bali.

This caused a backup of dozens of cars and cargo trucks.

This in turn infuriated people from Jembatan Kembar village in Lembar, but police managed to calm them down.

Traffic was snarled for four hours, leading officers to use the water cannons and an armored car to disperse the mob.

However, the protesters defied the water cannons and armored car and continued to stone and shoot arrows at the police station.

Police fired more warning shots and finally threw tear gas at the crowd, turning the scene into total chaos.

Police continued to fire dozens of warning shots, and the demonstrators finally gave up and ran toward fields near the station.

One policeman was wounded by a poison-tipped arrow and he was taken to hospital.

Dozens of the demonstrators’ motorcycles were left scattered outside the station.

Police arrested six people in the fields.

Hundreds of police officers continued to stand guard at the station on Thursday, while a wire barricade surrounded it.

Agus said the two murder suspects were in fact being held at the West Nusa Tenggara Police Headquarters.

They were allegedly involved in a riot in 2008.

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