Sun, 21 Dec 2003

Traders, thugs clash over 'security' fee

INDONESIA: A group of thugs clashed with local traders in Tavip market in Binjai, some 20 kilometers south of North Sumatra capital Medan, on Saturday, leaving all the shops in town shut for some seven hours. No fatalities were reported in the incident.

Witnesses said the clash began on Saturday morning at 10 p.m., when several local thugs led by Untung, 29, demanded money from several traders in the Tavip market. The money, they argued, was "security fee."

The demand drew the ire of the traders, and one of the angry traders eventually punched Untung in the face.

Having received the unexpected blow and outnumbered by the traders, Untung and his gang went back to their homes in Limau Sundai subdistrict, to round up more people and search for weapons for their revenge attack.

Equipped with sharp weapons of various types, the reinforced group of thugs stormed into the market and randomly destroyed kiosk after kiosk, said Dido, a local resident in Binjai.

No fatalities were reported as the traders had closed their shops and left the scene before the gangsters returned.

Adj. Sr. Comr. Bambang Waskito, the chief of Binjai police precinct, said the situation was under the police's control by Saturday afternoon. He claimed "all parties involved" in the case were being held at the Binjai police headquarters for further questioning. -- JP