Seven arrested for attack on Indonesian power plant

Nov. 18, 2008
Angry locals destroy buildings, equipment at contruction site

from THE JAKARTA POST -- MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2008 -- Seven suspects have been detained in connection to last Friday's attack on the construction site of a power plant in Lontar village, Kemiri district, Tangerang Police said Sunday.

The attack saw angry locals destroy nearly everything at the project location and burn down the contractor's office, company dormitories, seven cars, three units of heavy machinery and a motorcycle.

Tangerang Police chief Sr. Comr. Agus Andrianto confirmed officers had arrested seven residents as suspects in the assault. He identified one of them as village administration head Hae.

"We suspect Hae was behind the assault because from the information we received, he had frequently mobilized people to rally in protest against the project," Agus said.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Sunday the attack was a serious crime that required serious punishment.

"I expect the police to apply strict measures. This has to go through legal proceedings because the attack has obstructed a government program," he was quoted as saying by Antara.

The attack was triggered by the earlier arrest on Friday of seven men as part of the nationwide anti-thug operation launched by the National Police early this month.

Tangerang Police allege the seven men extorted between Rp 10,000 and Rp 25,000 per day from each driver delivering construction material to the 3x315 megawatt power station project.

"Officers seized millions in cash and a number of restitution tickets from the seven hoodlums who claimed to be submitting the money to the village head for the interest of village development," Agus said.

The local thugs claimed they demanded the money from drivers as form of restitution to the village. Locals believed the arrest was made following complaints filed by the project contractors.

About three hours after the arrests, hundreds of locals surrounded the project site and demanded that project contractors PT Dongfang Electric Corporation and PT Dalle Energy urge the police to release the seven men.

At 10:30 p.m., after their demands were ignored, they began ransacking the site.

"The attackers even stole valuables belonging to company employees.

They forced their way in and suddenly ran amok brutally," Marta Fauzi, the site's security chief, said Sunday.

The attack ended around midnight, after dozens of Tangerang Police officers arrived at the scene.

All project employees were evacuated from the site, including 94 foreigners, mostly Chinese nationals working as experts in the steam power project that is expected to be completed in 2010.

As of Sunday, dozens of officers were still looking for those who took part in the attack. Nearby homes have been searched, and officers have been deployed around the project site.