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Tension remains after deadly Bali brawl

Agence France Presse - December 13, 1998

Jakarta – Tension remained high in northern Bali despite heavy security deployed following a brawl among villagers that left three dead and scores injured, reports said Sunday

Groups of men armed with traditional weapons remained on guard by the roadside in the Banjar subdistrict in northern Bali on Saturday, after clashes between supporters of two political parties late on Thursday and early on Friday, the Bisnis Indonesia said. Tension remained high despite the deployment of over 700 police in the area, the daily said.

Police on Saturday said three people had died and at least 20 others were injured after the brawl that broke out in Cempaga village, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of the Bali capital of Denpasar. The brawl opposed supporters of the ruling Golkar party and those of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) faction of opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The two first victims, both PDI supporters, died when a mob of Golkar supporters in Cempaga attacked a house where seveen PDI fans were visiting a sick colleague late on Thursday. Fifteen people who went to their rescue were then attacked as the fighting continued through to Friday morning.

The third victim was Cempaga village head, 40-year-old I Putu Arta, who was attacked and killed in the neighbouring Mlantingan village a few hours later. The village chief was attacked and killed as he passed through Banjar by residents angered by news of the Cempaga attack.

The two PDI victims have been buried while the funeral of the village head has been postponed because of the remaining tension, Bisinis Indonesia quoted the head of the Buleleng district police, Lieutenant Colonel Nasser Amir, as saying. Amir could not be immediately contacted on Sunday.

The brawl was the last in a series of open conflicts between supporters of Golkar and those of the PDI since the latter held a mass congress in Bali in October.