Mon, 16 Oct 2000

Police officers escape kidnapping

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): Sinjai deputy police chief Sr. Insp. Sappewali and his adjutant Pvt. Achmad Patudangi were assaulted and abducted at Balampesoang village on Saturday, but subsequently managed to escape.

As of Sunday evening, tension was still high in Sinjai, some 250 kilometers north of here, after angry relatives of the victims and their supporters from the neighboring town of Bulukumba came face to face with the alleged abductors, who are members of the Mass Anti-Vice Movement (GMAM).

A joint police and military force has been dispatched to Sinjai to avoid clashes.

Sappewali and Achmad were attacked during an illegal check by GMAM members on passing vehicles in Balampesoang village.

Both policemen were admitted to Bhayangkara Police Hospital in Makassar on account of the severe injuries they received.

"We'll capture the group's leader for this incident and file charges against him or her," South Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Sofjan Jacoeb said on Sunday.

The two officers survived the ordeal, thanks to local residents who took them by car to the Tanete Military Subdistrict office in Bulukumba.

"We're very concerned about the incident. The group (GMAM) should be fighting vice without using violence," Sinjai regent HM. Roem said on Saturday night.

Roem added that the attack was probably triggered by the people's resentment of Sappewali who has been alleged to be backing illegal activities such as gambling and prostitution.

Sappaweli and his adjutant were intercepted at about 4 p.m. local time on Saturday. The mob searched the officers' car and were said to have found several bottles of liquor and sharp weapons.

The two claimed to have been beaten up while being held by the group.

Roem said the masses would not have turned angry if the police had kept their promise of eradicating gambling and other illegal activities.

Brig. Gen. Sofjan Jacoeb, however, dismissed allegations that Sappewali was involved in illegal businesses.

"I have received the official report and there were no liquor or sharp weapons found in his car during the check. That was a bogus claim on the part of the group," Sofjan said, adding that he had assigned a special team to investigate the case. (27/edt)