Wed, 09 Jul 2003

Mob torches police station in S. Sumatra

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

An angry mob set fire to a police station in South Sumatra province in protest against the police's failure to curb a series of crimes, leaving one person wounded, an officer said on Tuesday.

The attack took place on Monday night when around 300 residents of Karangjaya subdistrict, Musirawas, South Sumatra, demonstrated against a string of unsolved crimes, local police spokesman Abu Sopah told AFP.

He said the crimes included motorcycle thefts.

Karangjaya police station, which was guarded by only six policemen, was set ablaze along with a police motorcycle.

Sopah said one protester was wounded by a stray bullet after police fired warning shots to break up the crowd.

Police detained 32 people, including three of the ringleaders, after the attack.

In May, a mob attacked and ransacked a police post in West Java after a policeman allegedly shot dead a bus driver following a traffic accident; and last November, angry residents in South Sumatra burnt down a police station after officers hunting escaped prisoners mistakenly killed a villager.

Incidents of "mob justice" have been on the rise in recent years across the crisis-plagued country as the crime rate has continued to rise.

Suspected thieves and robbers are often set on fire or beaten to death, but prosecutions of the vigilantes are significantly rare.

Criminologists and other expert analysts have blamed the incidents on police ineffectiveness and poor law enforcement.