Indonesia ends two-night siege of police lock-up by 156 terrorist inmates

Indonesian police say a hostage crisis at a high-security jail outside Jakarta ends after Islamist militant prisoners who killed five police surrender and release an officer they were holding.
A mobile brigade policeman patrols near an armoured vehicle at the Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, Indonesia on May 10, 2018.
A mobile brigade policeman patrols near an armoured vehicle at the Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, Indonesia on May 10, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - The two-night siege of a police lock-up by 156 terrorist inmates ended on Thursday (May 10) morning after security forces launched a raid on 10 inmates who declined surrendering.

Five anti-terror police officers and a terrorist inmate were killed during the stand-off in the police mobile brigade (Brimob) high security detention facility outside Jakarta. The crisis also injured four other officers.

"We dealt with this using a soft and persuasive approach, although our colleagues have fallen victims of their sadistic acts," Deputy police chief commissioner general Syafruddin, who goes by one name, told a media briefing on Thursday morning, about 500m from the lock-up compound. There were signs of tortures before the five officers were killed.

Of the 156 terrorist inmates, one was killed, 145 others surrendered before dawn, while the final 10 hostage takers only surrendered after police launched a raid after dawn, said Coordinating Political, Legal Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, who goes by one name, in a separate press conference on Thursday morning.

The mayhem was sparked when inmate Wawan Kurniawan, alias Abu Afif, a member of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terrorist group, became furious that guards would not allow visiting family members to give him food on Tuesday. Police said it was a misunderstanding when officers required the meals to be inspected.

At around 8pm on Tuesday, Wawan incited other inmates to try to break free. A group of five to 10 inmates in a cell applied pressure on their cell door and managed to break it open. Most of them were supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

They then stormed into an interrogation room, where a female police officer was attending to a newly arrived inmate. They snatched her weapon and beat her up. She is among the four injured victims.

The group went into a storeroom used for confiscated items from past raids and took assault rifles, pistols, ammunition and home-made bombs there. They attacked other officers and held them hostage. Five hostages were killed, another three were freed hours later on Tuesday, and the last one was feed at around 2am on Thursday.

During the Thursday morning press conference, Commissioner General Syafruddin did not explain how the last hostage was released, but cited police spokesman Brigadier General Muhammad Iqbal as saying that hostage takers asked for foods in exchange for the release.

An explosion and gun shots were heard just before the 7.30am press conference began. Com-Gen Syafruddin said the explosion was meant "to sterilise the site" as officers were emptying the facility and wanted to ensure that before they storm inside.

Brimob commander Inspector General Rudy Sufahriadi added: "The explosion was to bring down a wall of a room we figured they placed home-made bombs. They took the bombs from the room used for confiscated items, from past raids, of which police had actually planned to move to a proper store room."

All the involved terrorist inmates have now been transferred to the Nusakambangan, Indonesia's Alcatraz-like island prison. "They are now on the way there as we speak," Mr Rudy told reporters.