Indonesia deploys Navy ships after second death in Tiaka riots

August 24th, 2011 - 6:02 pm ICT by BNO News  

PALU, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — The Indonesian government on Tuesday deployed two Navy ships to the northeastern island of Tiaka after a second death was reported due to ongoing riots.

The ships will be patrolling the oil drilling station, which is jointly operated by Pertamina and PT Medco, after it was attacked by angry mobs who began rioting on the island on Sunday, local naval commander Colonel Budi Utomo told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

The riots began on Sunday and intensified on Monday afternoon as angry mobs attacked the Pertamina-Medco E&P Tomori Joint Operating Board offices and facilities, located in the Morowali district on Tiaka Island in Central Sulawesi.

The riots worsened when hundreds of residents from mainland Mamosalato traveled to the island by motor boats and joined the riots, vandalizing the oil facilities. Mobs, using machetes, spears, sickles and Molotov cocktails, also took several Pertamina employees hostage.

In addition, the Antara news agency reported that an oil well on Tiaka island was also attacked with Molotov cocktails, causing it to catch fire. As tensions rose, police forces opened fire against dozens of protesters and mobs. Two people were later confirmed dead.

Sulawesi Police Chief Brigadier General Dewa Parsana previously stated that 19 people had been arrested and were being questioned for acting unlawfully, conducting vandalism and holding people hostage. Authorities said they would be transported to the Central Sulawesi Regional Police Headquarters in Palu for further investigation.

Initially, the cause of the riots was unknown, but Parsana explained that local residents gathered and expressed discontent after the company failed to construct public facilities and electricity networks as promised. Furthermore, residents tried to negotiate with company officials, but the company chief was in Jakarta.

Tiaka Island is located in the Mamosalato subdistrict of Morowali district and is located on the border area between Morowali and Banggai. State-owned Pertamina and PT Medco E&P Tomori form a consortium which owns the attacked oil well.

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