JAKARTA - Six people died and 200 were wounded in unrest in the Indonesian capital on Wednesday (May 22) morning that the authorities said was "an event by design".
Speaking to the media at National Police headquarters, Inspector-General Mohammad Iqbal said 58 "provocateurs" behind the violence have been arrested. He said 14 vehicles, including three belonging to the police, were set on fire.
"The event this morning was not a spontaneous mass event but an event by design," he said. He added that some envelopes containing money were seized, but did not give further details.
The mob was protesting against the election commission's declaration on Tuesday (May 21) that incumbent Joko Widodo had defeated his rival Prabowo Subianto with a 55.5 per cent share of the votes in the April 17 presidential election.
Mr Prabowo has rejected the result, alleging widespread fraud, and has said that he will file a legal challenge.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said: “Six people have died, so far. Two at Tarakan Hospital and then at Pelni, Budi Kemulyaan, Cipto Mangunkusumo and RSAL Mintoharjo hospitals." About 200 people were injured, as of 9am, he added.
He said he had gone to Tarakan Hospital in Central Jakarta earlier in the morning to check on the injured protesters.
“Tarakan Hospital received the largest number of patients as of this morning. Around 80 injured protesters were brought in this morning. Meanwhile, around 70 injured protesters were admitted to Pelni Hospital in West Jakarta,” he said.
He called on the protesters to maintain public order and safety to prevent more deaths and injuries.
“Please protest in a peaceful and orderly manner. I also urge law enforcement personnel to practise restraint to avoid any unwanted conflicts with the protesters,” he said.
At least three people were injured earlier on Wednesday morning when rioters tried to force their way into the police mobile brigade (Brimob) housing complex in West Jakarta. Several police vehicles parked in the complex were set on fire.
For a while, gun shots could be heard as army reserves were deployed and were seen negotiating with the crowd. The police also set up road blockades around the Brimob complex.
Police and military personnel in riot gear also used tear gas, crowd control guns and rubber pellet grenades to repel protesters who refused to disperse after a street rally on Tuesday.
Most of an estimated 2,000-strong crowd that had staged a sit-in outside the elections supervisory body Bawasalu's building on Tuesday left the scene by about 10pm local time. But on Wednesday morning, a crowd of about 300 had reassembled to stage a peaceful rally.
However, smaller groups clashed with security personnel near the Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta from about 2am on Wednesday, hurling rocks and setting off what appeared to be firecrackers as the riot troops approached.
Similar scenes had played out earlier from about midnight in the Jalan Sabang area, after police riot troops chased a group of protesters who were trying to damage the iron fencing at the Bawaslu building.
The protests in Jakarta on Tuesday were organised mainly by groups who support Mr Prabowo. His campaign team has sought to distance itself from the rallies following the arrest of a member of his coalition for instigating the "people power" movement against Bawaslu and the KPU.
Jakarta remains on edge ahead of plans by an Islamist group to hold another major rally on Wednesday at the General Elections Commission (KPU) headquarters to protest against the presidential polls results.
Calls for Muslims to throng the streets around the KPU in downtown Jakarta circulated on social media over the weekend in anticipation of the official release of the vote count.
The rally organisers, who identified themselves as Persaudaraan Alumni 212, are calling the mass gathering a "constitutional jihad", according to publicity material seen by The Straits Times on Sunday. The name Persaudaraan Alumni 212 refers to the people who took part in a rally held in the capital more than two years ago on Dec 2 against former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama for insulting Islam.https://youtu.be/jxB8e1R4xeA
The 2016 protest, led by far-right Muslims from the Islamic Defenders Front, better known locally as the FPI, had threatened to destabilise the country during the gubernatorial election, which was marred by religious issues and sectarianism.
Fears of violence have prompted foreign missions such as the United States embassy to issue a warning of "heightened risk of terrorism" in Jakarta, as well as other cities in Indonesia, such as Surabaya and Medan.
A police spokesman on Tuesday said 50,000 security personnel have been mobilised to secure the city, up from the 32,000 troops it said would be deployed at the weekend.