Jakarta – The South Sumatra Police have arrested and named 16 people suspects for their alleged involvement in assaults against police officers on two separate occasions in the province's Empat Lawang regency.
Three of the 16 suspects were apprehended for attacking police officers when the latter were on duty, while the rest were allegedly involved in an attack against police personnel at a local hospital, National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said on Thursday.
According to the police, the incidents first started on late Wednesday afternoon after the Ulu Musi Police's Crime Unit received a report filed by a member of an NGO who claimed that a resident of Tanjung Raman village identified as Erwin had sent threats to the group.
"Four police officers [subsequently] went to Erwin's house with the intention of collecting his testimony after he was accused of threatening an organization," Dedi said.
Erwin, however, was not found at his house when the officers arrived. Later at night, an officer encountered Erwin, who was accompanied by eight of his friends, in another location within the village.
The officers initially tried to mediate between Erwin and the accuser who reported him, but Erwin suddenly pulled out a knife and he and his friends attacked the officers, according to the police.
Second Insp. Arsan Fajri and Chief Brig. Darmawan suffered stab wounds in the attack, prompting their colleagues to fire warning shots, wounding Erwin and his friend Erwan, while the six others escaped the scene.
The wounded officers as well as Erwin and Erwan were taken to Tebing Tinggi General Hospital for emergency treatment. However, at around 9 p.m., a group of around 50 people stormed the hospital in search of the police officers who were being treated.
The members of the group were equipped with sharp weapons and self-made firearms, the police said.
The two police personnel who were at the hospital, First Brig. Agus and Second Brig. Teja Apriaga, suffered gunshot wounds during the attack. Two members of the group who were allegedly involved in the assaults were apprehended and taken into custody after the police had shot them with non-lethal ammunition.
"The group is likely affiliated with [Erwin and Erwan]," Dedi said, adding that the local authorities were still hunting down the provocateurs of the incident.
"The situation is now under control. The local police, [Empat Lawang] regent as well as local community figures have communicated with local residents and told them not to be provoked and not to spread unproven assumptions."
Dedi asserted that the police officers shot the suspects in self-defense as the personnel had been attacked first with sharp weapons and guns.
The South Sumatra Police sent hundreds of police officers and Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel to guard the vicinity shortly after the two incidents. (bry/afr)