Mon, 01 Dec 2003

Tension grows as soldier killed in brawl

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

One soldier was killed and two others severely injured on Sunday morning during an attack by a sword-wielding, drunken mob on the Denpasar Moon nightclub here.

First Corp. I Gusti Ngurah Ketut Suardika died from stab wounds, while First Corp. Tanabudi and First Corp. Celagi were rushed to Sanglah Hospital.

The Denpasar Police have detained two of the suspected attackers, who are members of a well-known gang, and have questioned five witnesses in connection with the brawl.

The national flag at the Wirasatya Bali Military Command was flying at half-staff, while the area around the military housing complex was tense, with rumors of a possible retaliatory attack being rife.

"I have assembled my officers and ordered them to keep their men calm so that there will be no revenge attack. I have also instructed military intelligence to assist the police in tracking down those responsible for the killing," Bali Military Commander Col. IGP Buana said.

A source revealed that one senior military officer had spoken to the gang's leader and asked him to surrender all the attackers to the police or face a military revenge attack. The gang leader reportedly apologized for the incident and expressed his willingness to comply with the demand.

The nightclub is located on Jl. Jendral Sudirman, right across the street from the second largest military installation and housing complex on the island, which includes the military headquarters.

A witness said the three soldiers were manning the internal affairs post at the military headquarters when at around 6:30 a.m. they received a report of a violent brawl at the nearby club.

"The report said the brawl involved several youths from the military housing complex. The three soldiers rushed to the club to break up the fight," he said.

In fact, the brawl pitted the club's three security guards against dozens of armed men in a drunken state, who are believed to be members of one of the most notorious gangs in Denpasar.

The gang attacked the newly arrived soldiers with sharp weapons and dumped them at the club's front gate. The club's guards only sustained minor injuries.