Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh – Police charged 21 members and supporters of the Aceh Party over a string of violent attacks on rival political parties ahead of the April legislative election.
Local police initially arrested 50 people in connection with a spate of attacks targeting members of the Aceh National Party (PNA) in Banda Masen Village, in Lhokseumawe district, early Saturday morning. A mob of PA supporters converged on the home of Amri, a local official with PNA, in retaliation over the shooting of the PA's Ahmad Syuib, 28, during a campaign event.
Ahmad was shot after an Aceh Party event in Ulee Reuleueng Village, North Aceh, at 8 p.m. on Friday. The 28-year-old was injured in the shooting and admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment, said Lhokseumawe Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Joko Surachmanto.
Aceh Party supporters responded by engaging in a series of attacks targeting the rival party. Two men were badly beaten at a coffee stall in Cot Murong village, Dewantara, North Aceh. The mob then set the local office of the PNA on fire before turning on a car and home owned by local PNA legislative candidate Dedi Safrizal.
They then destroyed campaign paraphernalia throughout the subdistrict and attacked the home of Amri.
"Six other people have been named suspects for possessions of arms, including machetes, bayonets, knives and two airsoft guns," Joko told Jakarta Globe. "All of them are cadres or supporters of PA."
In total 21 people were charged in connection with the attacks. Police seized 16 vehicles used by the mob. "The 21 suspects are facing more than five years in prison," Joko said.
An investigation into the shooting of Ahmad and the other attacks on PNA members is still under investigation. "Sooner or later the perpetrators will be arrested," Joko said.
Aceh has struggled with a spate of violence in the lead-up to the legislative election as members of two rival parties both founded by ex-Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels fight for control of Indonesia's most Islamic province.
A third party, the Aceh Peace Party (PDA) was founded by local ulema and has been largely uninvolved in the violence, according to initial reports. PA officials could not be reached for comment by deadline.