Violence expands to Central Lampung
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Violence broke out again in Lampung province on Thursday afternoon, when hundreds of residents from Buyut Udik village in Gunung Sugih district, Central Lampung regency, attacked Kesumadadi village in Bekri district.
Brandishing daggers and other sharp weapons, the angry mob, consisting mostly of indigenous Lampung people, set several houses on fire in the village, which is inhabited by transmigrants from Java.
Central Lampung Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Herry Setiawan said his officers tried to uphold security in Kesumadadi village by blocking access.
“We have evacuated all Kesumadadi villagers. However, we were unable to prevent the attackers from burning five houses. We have spoken with them and asked them to not be so easily provoked,” Herry said.
According to Herry, the attack was retaliation following an incident where a resident of Buyut Udik village, Hairil Anwar, 29, was killed by Kesumadadi villagers on Oct. 18. Hairil was captured for his alleged involvement in the theft of three cows and was burned alive.
“We have actually dealt with the case. One of the Kesumadadi villagers has been named as a suspect and detained,” Herry said.
As of Thursday evening police officers backed by soldiers, local government officials and community leaders met to help curb the anger. Hundreds of soldiers from the Central Lampung Military District Command had been deployed to help protect Kesumadadi village.
Meanwhile, the Lampung Police will continue investigations into the riot case that claimed the lives of 12 people last week despite an agreement, between Balinese Hindu residents of Balinuraga and Muslim villagers of Agom, South Lampung regency, not to file legal charges.
Lampung Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Sulistyaningsih said police had collected statements from 53 witnesses from Balinuraga, Agom and Sidoreno villages, adding that the number of witnesses may be in the hundreds.
“The eighth point of the peace pact mentions that residents would not file any legal charges. We have evaluated it. We do respect the matter, however, the National Police, as a law enforcement institution, are obliged to uphold the law,” said Sulistyaningsih on Thursday.
She added that the legal proceedings of the riot case, which was sparked by a harassment allegation on Oct. 28, should be followed to ensure legal certainty and to prevent similar case from occurring. “Police have not only investigated those involved in the killings but also every crime that took place during the riots, such as vandalism and looting,” she said.
After the peace pact was signed on Nov. 1, thousands of Balinuraga and Sidoreno residents, who had taken refuge at the State Police Academy in Kemiling, Bandar Lampung, returned to their villages.
Evacuees, whose homes were slightly damaged, could return to their houses, while those whose homes were severely damaged or burned, were forced to sleep in tents provided by the Indonesian Red Cross.
According to Sulistyaningsih, reports from villagers in Balinuraga and Sidoreno say the attack by thousands of people from various villages in Kalianda district against their villages was also followed by looting. “We will investigate all crimes during the incident. The law must be upheld because the crimes were committed by a massive crowd, so we won’t set a time limit for the investigations,” said Sulistyaningsih.
Lampung University legal expert Tisnanta said the legal process of the riot in South Lampung should proceed because the seeds of conflict between Lampung residents and ethnic Balinese residents in South Lampung were due to weak law enforcement. “Native Lampung residents feel that legal cases involving Balinese residents have never been followed up, so the people take the law into their hands. As the riot was provoked by ethnic sentiments, the riot escalated,” said Tisnanta.