Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. A spate of violent mob attacks left five dead in Lombok over the weekend after a rumor that local children were being kidnapped by organ harvesters spread across the island.
On Sunday, a mob killed an unidentified man being held at the Kediri Police station in the first reported attack. The man was beaten with crowbars and stoned. By Monday, the death toll had reached five as the rumor spread via text message and BlackBerry Messenger.
“It’s obvious here that someone wants to create havoc in West Nusa Tenggara,” West Nusa Tenggara Deputy Governor Badrul Munir said.
The text message was falsely attributed to Mataram chief of police, Badrul said.
“We hope the public will not be provoked by misleading and irresponsible rumors,” Badrul said.
Hours after the first attack, a mob turned on 30-year-old Putu Suarjana in Selat village, Narmada, West Lombok, killing him.
Police in Pujut, Central Lombok, attempted to escort two men seen giving candy to children at Kuta Beach to the nearest police station. But the officers were surrounded by a mob, who stabbed and set the accused ablaze before turning on the police station.
A fifth victim was killed after being chased by another man on a motorbike in Semoyang, Central Lombok. The man accused Kimim, 35, of being a kidnapper.
A sixth man, 28-year-old Suhami, was attacked by a mob as he drove a minivan through Semoyang. It is not yet clear whether he survived the attack.
West Nusa Tenggara Police official Adj. Comr. I Gusti Ketut Suarya only confirmed the five deaths on Monday.
The local government has contacted civil and religious groups in an effort to quell the violence. The Indonesian Military (TNI) has also been called in to provide additional security on the island.
Police in West Nusa Tenggara are searching for those responsible for the text message.