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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Riot at Prison Housing Former Jakarta Governor Ahok

Update: Five officers were killed in the riot, and one is still being held hostage.
May 9, 2018, 5:19am
An officer stands outside Mako Brimob, Kelapa Dua, Depok, in this file photo. Yulius Satria Wijaya/Antara Photo/via Reuters.

Convicted terrorists set off a prison riot on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital last night, seizing weapons, and killing five police officers inside a detention center that contains some of the country's most-high profiled prisoners, including radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman and former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

The situation was still unraveling Wednesday afternoon, but it all started last night at the 24 cell large prison run by the National Police Mobile Brigade (BirMob) in Depok, West Java, just south of Jakarta. An unknown number of prisoners, allegedly many of them convicted terrorists and ISIS sympathizers, set off a riot, got their hands on some police rifles and killed five officers.


One of the rioters was killed by police during the riot, and a sixth officer was allegedly still being held captive by the prisoners Wednesday afternoon.

"We have to tell you that five of our officers have been killed, and one of them is still being held hostage," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. M. Iqbal told the local press. "On the terrorists' side, one of the terrorists forced us to shoot while we were fighting as he tried to seize the weapons from our officers."

The news agency of the Islamic State (ISIS) was quick to claim responsibility for the riot in a message sent out over Telegram, stating, "fighters have engaged in a clash with Indonesian anti-terrorism police inside a prison in Jakarta," but the reality is far more mundane.

"It's not true," Iqbal told the local press.

While it's true that some of the men allegedly involved share sympathies with ISIS, the riot actually started over food, not religion, according to reports published in local media.

"The trigger is a trivial matter," Iqbal said. "The trigger was a problem over some food."

Inmates of Indonesian prisons are allowed to receive food delivered to the penitentiary by their friends and family, but it needs to be checked by prison officers before they can eat it. The packages of food are allegedly commonly used to smuggle in contraband goods.

When Wawan Kurniawan, a member of the militant Jamaah Ansharut Daulah who was convicted of planning an attack on police stations in South Sumatra and stockpiling weapons, received a shipment from his family, officers checked its contents and gave it to another inmate for delivery. This allegedly set off an argument that ended in a riot.

The protest quickly spread to blocks B and C, two of the three prison blocks at the center, as it spiraled out of control. Convicted terrorists Juhanda and Khairul Anam were allegedly involved in the riot. Both of them share sympathies with ISIS and were also involved in another riot at the same prison in 2017.

Police have yet to officially announce anything about the former Jakarta governor. Ahok, who was sentenced to two years behind bars exactly one year ago on charges of blasphemy, was in prison at the time of the riot. His sister Fifi Lety Tjahaja Purnama said that she believes her brother is fine and under the protection of God, according to a post on Instagram, but the police have, so far, remained silent on Ahok's wellbeing.

This situation is still unfolding.

*Last updated at 16:10 on Wednesday, 9 May 2018.