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Soldiers clash with police in South Sumatra after fatal shooting

Jakarta Globe - March 7, 2013

Farouk Arnaz – Soldiers in South Sumatra attacked a police station on Wednesday, torching the building and giving 16 inmates a chance to escape, in the latest incident of police-military violence.

Some 70 soldiers with the Indonesian Military's (TNI) Yon Armed (Field Artillery Battalion) converged on a police station in Ogan Komering Ulu to demand officers investigate the recent fatal shooting of a soldier by a police officer. The two sides reportedly disagreed on how to handle the case and a riot broke out.

"[The soldiers] protested, demanding the police investigate the recent shooting of one of their colleagues," National Police Assistant for Operation, Insp. Gen. Badrodin Haiti said. "Somehow that degenerated into a riot."

By the end of the riot, the station was ablaze, four people – including Martapura police chief AD Ridwan – were injured and 16 inmates were missing. Two other police posts were attacked in the melee, the National Police said.

"The Martapura police chief and one of his subordinates who sustained serious injuries were flown to Palembang for intensive care," National Police Spokesman Insp. Gen. Suhardi Alius said.

The soldiers were reportedly acting on their own when they showed up outside the police station, Suhardi said. "The perpetrators moved without an order from their superior so we cannot call this a planned attack," he said. "There was no gunfire either."

The incident stemmed from the fatal shooting of First Private Her, 23, at a police traffic post in Simpang Empat Sukajadi. Her allegedly drove past the traffic post on his motorcycle and became involved in an argument with a police officer identified as "W.J." The police officer reportedly felt slighted and called several friends to confront Her.

A brawl ensued and someone fired their gun. Her was found bleeding and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died.

Local police said they were investigating the case. "It appears the victim's colleagues were angry even though the case was already being investigated," Badrodin said. He declined to elaborate on the status of the investigation or say whether anyone has been arrested.

The National Police launched an investigation into Wednesday's attack. The officers will investigate the cause behind the most recent attack. "Each conflict has different triggers" he said. "[But] normally the police and the military are very solid."

The military and police regularly clash in Indonesia where disputes over pay disparities, territory and rank often boil over into violence. In one of the worst incidents of soldier-on-police violence, members of the TNI's Air Battalion attacked the Langkat district police in a violent brawl that left seven dead.