INDONESIAN authorities said on Thursday that Islamist terror detainees had surrendered after a standoff that lasted almost two days at a high security detention centre near the capital Jakarta.
Hundreds of police and armoured vehicles were deployed to rescue a police officer taken hostage by inmates after chaos erupted late Tuesday at the facility inside the Mobile Police Brigade headquarters in Depok, leaving five officers and an inmate dead.
Officials deemed the incident an “act of terror” and said that the officers had been “sadistically killed” by the detainees, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. “We have minimised the number of victims,” deputy chief of national police Syafruddin told reporters.
In the pre-dawn operation, 145 prisoners “surrendered unconditionally” and the hostage was released with no further casualties reported, said Chief Security Minister Wiranto.
Another ten inmates holding out against police later surrendered after tear gas was used, he said. Several blasts heard near the prison on Thursday morning were caused by police destroying home-made bombs created by the prisoners, police said.
Rioting had broken out after several prisoners demanded they be given food sent to them by their families and managed to grab some of their jailers’ firearms in the ensuing fracas.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo thanked security forces for their efforts in containing the crisis. “The state and all the people are never afraid and will never give the slightest room to terrorism and also to efforts that undermine the security of the country,” he told a news conference.
The Islamic State group was quick to claim responsibility for the riot through its Amaq News Agency, but authorities rejected that claim.
Experts, however, said it was likely those responsible were affiliated with IS. “The East Asia Division of the Islamic State reported on the ongoing clashes inside the Depok city prison … and provided photos of fighters and seized weapons,” said SITE Intelligence group on its website during the siege.
Sidney Jones, Director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict told the Jakarta Post that it was likely to be pro-IS Indonesians behind the riot as “they’ve been causing trouble for some time at [the prison].”
Among the facility’s prisoners is Aman Abdurrahman, an Islamic radical jailed for orchestrating an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left eight people dead.
Incidentally, Jakarta’s former governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama – jailed under Indonesia’s strict blasphemy laws last year for allegedly insulting Islam – is also held at the detention centre.
Indonesia’s overcrowded prisons are notorious for their poor conditions and outbreaks of violence. Two years ago, nearly 500 inmates broke out from a prison after complaining about overcrowding and extortion.
Additional reporting from Reuters and AFP.