Indonesian recalls stinging tear gas in deadly soccer melee
JAKARTA: A stinging tear gas canister exploded on the pitch as Indonesia supporters clashed with security forces during a World Cup qualifier on Sunday in the country’s biggest unrest in decades.
The violence occurred in the eastern city of Medan in a match that Indonesia lost 2-1. The match was marred by the fatal stabbing of a policeman by a fan in a riot that also left another six people injured.
The attack sparked a mass rally by anti-government protesters and riot police charged into the city as supporters clashed with police. The violence that followed is believed to have claimed at least six lives and left tens others injured.
A supporter of the opposition Democrats for Socialism and Freedoms (Delfi) party died in another protest Sunday. Delfi members said the 35-year-old man was rushed to the hospital with chest pains and died just after midnight, a local media report said. Other anti-government demonstrators have been beaten and at least 20 people have been arrested.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Jakarta, said that security forces are attempting to contain the unrest, but that violence has been escalating since Friday.
“This is perhaps the bloodiest unrest in recent memory, what we’re seeing now is simply a continuation of the demonstrations that have been continuing throughout the country,” she said.
“This is very much about the government of President Joko Widodo and his administration. They’re going under a lot of pressure to resign or face impeachment.”
As protesters began to march, they were attacked by riot police with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets.
Police fired pepper spray and rubber bullets at demonstrators, while others were hit with stun grenades, riot police said. The demonstrators set fire to the police riot vans and attacked riot police with rocks and poles.
There was also a clash with police in the city of Cianjur, about 250km east of Medan, where an opposition supporter was killed.
After the clash, police announced that they were investigating the death.
Protest leaders condemned the violence, and called on the protesters to stand together and support each other