The Indonesian Army chief of staff has promised to bring to justice all soldiers — including commanding officers — who were involved in an attack last week on the Ogan Komering Ulu district police headquarters in South Sumatra.
“We are serious [about the investigation],” Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo said on Monday.
“The question boils down to what kind of punishment is fitting. They will be punished according to their wrongdoing. An investigation is still in progress.”
Pramono said that several commanding officers had been subjected to an internal investigation by the Military Police.
“There will be sanctions for [the commanding officers] who did not do enough to stop this from happening,” he said.
A group of around 90 soldiers from the military’s Yon Armed (Field Artillery Battalion) burned down the Ogan Komering Ulu district police headquarters last Thursday, stabbing six police officers in the incident.
The attack was reportedly prompted when a traffic police officer shot dead a soldier during an argument over a minor traffic violation.
The soldiers reportedly came to the district police headquarters to demand a swift investigation into the shooting and were apparently dissatisfied by the police’s protracted probe.
The two sides reportedly disagreed on how to handle the case and a riot broke out. In the end, six people were injured and the police station and several vehicles were torched to the ground. Sixteen police detainees escaped during the riot.
On Monday, police erected a makeshift station in front of the burned-down building to serve citizens seeking to report crimes, obtain driver’s licenses or letters of good conduct. Earlier, the district police had to move virtually all their operations to a neighboring district.
Comr. Anisullah M. Ridha, the Ogan Komering Ulu deputy police chief, said the incident had put a stop to many ongoing criminal investigations, adding that most of the investigation documents were destroyed in the fire.
On Saturday, the military chief of staff, Adm. Agus Suhartono, said Military Police had launched a probe into 30 of the 90 soldiers involved in the clash.
Maj. Gen. Nugroho Widyotomo, commander of the Sriwijaya Military Command, which oversees military operations in South Sumatra, said there could be more soldiers facing sanctions for their alleged involvement.
“So far, there are 30 [military] members who are being investigated and the number could grow or decline,” he said on Monday. “We are upholding the law. If they are proven guilty, they will be sanctioned.”
Anger between the two forces has frequently erupted in violence since their separation in 1999 and is blamed on the perception among soldiers that police personnel are better remunerated and have an easier and less dangerous job.