Hundreds of police officers were deployed from Makassar to Ambon to help quell a riot that erupted over the death of a man, a police spokesman said on Sunday.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said police in Ambon were overwhelmed by the scale of the clash that left at least three dead and dozens of others injured.
More than 200 officers were sent from Makassar’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit, chosen because of its close proximity to the beleaguered city, the spokesman said. “The situation is now under control. There is no more violence,” he said at police headquarters in Jakarta.
Rumors that circulated in the area on Saturday claimed that a man named Darmin Saiman, a motorcycle taxi driver, had been attacked and killed.
The word of mouth prompted a violent clash between two groups, one of which is believed to include Darmin’s family, shortly after the man’s funeral took place on Sunday.
Many of the victims were injured by thrown rocks but the fatalities died from gunshot wounds, according to Dr. Ita Sabrina of Dr. M. Haulussy Public Hospital. The mob also vandalized a number of buildings and vehicles.
However, Anton said there had been a grave misunderstanding. Darmin had only been involved in a motorcycle accident, he said, and had died while en route to the hospital.
Maluku Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu said he had instructed the police to investigate the cause of the riot, which had spread across the city.
“The case must be resolved immediately to avoid the riot from spreading further,” he said.