Rumors of child-abduction sent randomly via text messages to residents of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) over the couple days have triggered deadly chaos, which killed five people and damaged two police stations.
NTB Police’s Information and data management division deputy chief Comr. I Gusti Ketut Suarya reported Monday that the rumors had started commotions, with residents hunting and killing five alleged kidnappers on Sunday and Monday.
Residents of Kediri district in West Lombok arrested one man who they accused as a child-kidnapper on Sunday afternoon. The police immediately put the man, whose identity remains unclear as of Monday, under their custody. However, few hours later, thousands of angry residents stormed the police station and assaulted the alleged kidnapper to death. The residents also damaged the Kediri police station.
Also on Sunday afternoon, another deadly incident occurred in Selat village in Narmada district when I Putu Suarjana, 32, a resident living in BTN Sweta housing complex in Mataram, was tortured and killed as residents accused him of being kidnapper.
On Monday, two perfume sellers were accused as kidnappers when residents spotted them giving candies to some kids in Kuta, Central Lombok. “The two alleged kidnappers were taken to Pujut Police office but the mob came and tortured them to death and damaged the police office,” Suarya said.
He said that police officers could do little to tame the angry mob because they were outnumbered.
In Jerowaru district in East Lombok, Kimin, resident of Semoyong village, was chased by hundreds of people riding motorcycles and was beaten to death. The 35-year-old man was accused as child kidnapper.
Suarya said that the abduction was nothing but rumor. “Once again, I announce that the NTB police have yet to receive any abduction report from parents,” he said.
“We really expect that residents to calm down and let the police find the source of the rumors,” he added.
NTB Deputy Governor Badrul Munir called on residents to keep calm and not be easily provoked by random text messages.
According to Badrul, some schools have allowed their students to go home earlier after the abduction rumors circulated among parents. (cor/lfr)