The Jakarta Police on Friday announced it was undertaking a manhunt for a local leader of the Pancasila Youth group for possible involvement of the death this week of a member of the rival Betawi Brotherhood Forum.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said warrants had been issued for the tracking down of nine people, including Riki Oktario, the chairman of the Simpang branch of the Pancasila Youth (PP).
Rikwanto said police had arrested five PP members believed to be responsible for the death of 36-year-old Muhidin, a member of the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) attacked by a mob of 50 PP members at FBR headquarters in Ciputat, Tangerang, on Wednesday morning.
Muhidin fought back, but died from stab wounds. The FBR reportedly staged a series of retaliatory attacks on people believed to be members of PP.
Hundreds of FBR members reportedly armed with Molotov cocktails and weapons burned the house of Tangerang Legislative Council member Karnadi, a PP supporter.
A mob of alleged FBR members also attacked two motorcyclists whose bikes sported Pemuda Pancasila stickers. The men were in Ciputat when they were stabbed and beaten.
Rikwanto did not detail how Riki was linked to the attack, saying only that “police are still pursuing him.”
Tanggerang Police Chief Sr. Comr. Bambang Priyo Agodo said the five suspects claimed the FBR initiated the violence.
“According to the suspects, FBR members mobbed a public minivan driver who happened to be a member of their rival group [PP]. But we are still investigating this motive,” Bambang said.
The district police chief said that since the incident, both hard-line groups had tried to conduct road blockades and sweep neighborhoods in search of members of rival groups, but the attempts were disbanded by police. “I will not tolerate any movements that are causing fear and destruction. We will take firm actions against them,” Bambang said.
Rikwanto said police were also considering shutting down hundreds of lookout posts operated by the two groups, saying they are often perceived as turf claims by their rivals.
Clashes between the groups are common, sometimes erupting over trivial matters like illegal parking spaces. Last August, dozens of FBR members clashed with PP rivals on Jalan Margonda Raya, which dissects South Jakarta and Depok.
Tensions between the groups could escalate in the run-up to next month’s gubernatorial election in Jakarta. The FBR is backing current Governor Fauzi Bowo.
The PP is headed by Yapto Soerjosumarno, a friend of the family of former President Suharto, a Golkar Party figure. Golkar has nominated South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin as its gubernatorial candidate in the Jakarta ballot.