Army Finds No Fault in Soldiers Involved in Kebumen Clash

An internal investigation has found that the soldiers who fired rubber bullets at farmers over the weekend did not violate any procedure, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Toisutta said on Wednesday.

“A probe has been completed, and no violations have been found,” he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday ordered the Army to investigate the weekend clash that left at least 14 farmers from Setrojenar village in Kebumen, Central Java, wounded by rubber bullets.

But George said the soldiers had followed the standard procedure during riots and had only fired the rubber bullets after persuasion methods and warnings failed to stop the riot.

He added that the mass action, which resulted in the damaging of the headquarters, was the work of rioters, not local residents. “This is not the work of locals, but rioters, because they burned down our weapons warehouse,” George said.

He added: “Even if we shot at them, this was in accordance to standard procedures. We had provided them with several warnings.”

The conflict erupted after the farmers, who have long protested the Army’s use of the area for weapons and ballistics training, blocked troops from using the location last week and vandalized a nearby research facility.

The farmers also allege that investors have lobbied the Army for permission to mine in the iron-rich area.

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