N. Adri, Balikpapan – Social tensions in the area of Indonesia's future capital in East Kalimantan that had escalated into riots and arson attacks on hundreds of homes and a ferry port on Wednesday, had eased by Friday after police and military personnel conducted large-scale patrols of the area.
The riot in Penajam district of North Penajam Paser regency followed a protest on Wednesday that had been sparked by a deadly brawl a week prior, in which one person was killed and another injured.
The rioters demanded punishment of the alleged perpetrators based on the customary law of their ethnic group, even though police had arrested four people after the brawl.
"The situation in North Penajam Paser has already stabilized," East Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Priyo Widyanto said.
The head of logistics and equipment at the North Penajam Paser Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Nurlaila, recorded at least 158 houses and several public facilities – including schools – that were burned or damaged during the riot, while 366 families had been evacuated.
The Penajam ferry port was operating normally again on Thursday after its ticket counters for klotok (traditional wooden boats) and speedboats had been damaged on Wednesday, forcing the port management to cease operations for the day. Meanwhile, four schools in the area remained closed on Friday.
According to Priyo, the North Penajam Paser Police deployed 600 Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel from Balikpapan, Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan and Surabaya in East Java. While the Indonesian Military (TNI) assigned 200 personnel.
Priyo said the police and military personnel were checking the identity of anyone passing through the area and preventing outsiders from entering the district to prevent further incidents.
The military personnel were helping locals clean up their neighborhoods. "We have recorded the damaged houses and buildings and will soon repair public facilities, such as schools, roads and offices," Penajam Regional Military commander Lt. Col. Mahmud said.