Indonesia: three attacks on police

February 29: Three police patrol officers were assaulted by a mob in Ciamis, West Java, after the officers ran over a motorcyclist in their car, killing him. Instead of stopping to help, the officers attempted to flee the scene.

However, a crowd that had gathered prevented them from leaving and proceeded to beat them.

The attack ended after community elders intervened, and the officers, whose identities have not been released, were taken to the hospital. The motorcyclist’s passenger was reported injured in the collision.

March 4: Two police officers in Katingan district, South Kalimantan, suffered first-degree burns after being set alight on Sunday by a motorcyclist they had ticketed the day before, in the third violent attack against the police in the space of a week.

Brig. Gen. Muhammad Taufik, a National Police spokesman, said on Monday that the incident stemmed from a routine traffic stop on Saturday night conducted by the two officers, First Brig. Martua Sianipar and Brig. Wahyu.

One of the motorcyclists they stopped, identified only as M.N., lacked registration papers. The officers then issued him a ticket and seized his motorcycle.

“The next day, the perpetrator went to the Katingan Police station and demanded that his motorcycle be returned,” Taufik said. “But of course the two officers refused, saying that he could only get it back after a court hearing.”

He said the perpetrator then whipped out a bottle filled with gasoline, splashed the two officers with it and set them on fire. He then fled to a nearby mosque, but was caught by a crowd.

Fortunately, Taufik said, the two officers’ injuries were not very serious.

“They suffered first-degree burns. It’s not too bad, and they won’t need surgery,” he said.

The perpetrator, identified as an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver, is expected to be charged with aggravated assault under the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

February 25: Two police informants were beaten to death and their bodies burned by a mob in Deli Serdang district, North Sumatra.

The informants, initially misidentified as police brigadiers, were aiding in a sting operation against an alleged bookie in Lau Bekri village. When the target saw them, however, he called out that they were thieves, prompting bystanders to turn on the informants and the police officer they were with.

The officer and two of four informants managed to flee to safety, but the other two were attacked and killed by the mob, which later placed their bodies in their car and set it on fire.

Taufik said the recent civilian attacks against the police were not related, but nevertheless highlighted an increasingly volatile public attitude toward the police.

“We’re certainly going to look into why the public is growing angrier with the police, but in the Ciamis case it’s clear that our men were at fault,” he said, adding that in the Katingan incident, the police had done nothing wrong.

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