Malang. National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said on Thursday that officers who secured the Kanjuruhan Stadium in the East Java town of Malang during last weekend’s match fired 11 tear gas munitions at the crowd during a chaotic situation as angry fans invaded the pitch following the defeat of the home team.
The incident ended in a deadly crush that killed at least 131 people and injured hundreds of others.
Listyo said seven tear gas munitions were fired at the southern seating section, one munition at the northern seating section, and three munitions at the pitch.
“The firing caused panic and [eye] pain among spectators primarily at the seating sections and prompted a struggle to leave the stadium,” Listyo said at a news conference in Malang.
Security officers took the action to prevent more spectators from invading the pitch and attacking players and match officials, he said.
The joint security team involved police and soldiers, but Listyo confirmed that the firing of non-lethal munitions was conducted by his men.
"There were 11 personnel who fired tear gas munitions," Listyo said.
Three officers identified by initials H, US, and BP had ordered the firing, he added.
Police used armored vehicles to evacuate players, especially those of the visiting team Persebaya Surabaya.
Angry fans of the home team Arema Football Club also targeted their own players following the defeat.
“Like what we have seen, officers used shields to protect Arema FC goalkeeper Adilson Maringa,” Listyo said.
No players or match officials were injured in the incident.
Listyo also announced that six people including three officers were named criminal suspects for the deadly crush.
Earlier in the day, US media The Washington Post reported that the police fired at least 40 munitions including tear gas, flash bangs, and flares at the crowd within a 10-minute span.
The Post said that the police’s use of tear gas in response to several hundred fans entering the field caused a huge surge at the southern end of Kanjuruhan stadium, where survivors say the bulk of the deaths occurred.
The review was “based on an examination of more than 100 videos and photographs, interviews with 11 witnesses and analyses by crowd control experts and civil rights advocates”, it said.