Policemen secure the area of Mako Brimob after the clash at the prison. (Photo: Special)

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia’s security tension was escalating  after a deadly riot broke out late Tuesday at the prison where a number of Islamic militants detained inside the headquarters of  Mobile Police Brigade in Depok, a suburb near to Jakarta capital city.

The National Police Spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that five Indonesian police officers and a prisoner were killed in clashes at the high security jail. The terrorist inmates who triggered the riot were still taking one police officer hostage. “One of our officers is still being held hostage. To prevent things getting worse, we keep negotiating so we don’t need to take the last resort. Negotiations are still underway to secure his release,” he said.

A dispute broke out after several prisoners demanded that they be given food sent to them by their families. They managed to grab some of their jailers’ firearms, the police said, adding that the high security facility was on lockdown.

Some of the prisoners involved in the clashes are Islamist militants jailed on terror-related charges, according to police.

However, authorities rejected a claim from the Islamic State (IS) group made through its Amaq News Agency that it was responsible for the riot.

“Those (IS) claims are not true at all,” Iqbal told reporters on the scene.

Among the facility’s prisoners is Aman Abdurrahman, an Islamic radical jailed for orchestrating an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left eight people dead.

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was sentenced two years in prison for blasphemy after losing a re-election bid, is also held in the jail.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said on Wednesday afternoon that the government and security officials would conduct a coordination meeting to take crucial action to stop the incident. “If (someone is) killed, it’s urgent,” said Wiranto, a former commander-in-chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces.

Riots have been very often reported in Indonesian prisons. Indonesia’s 450 prison facilities currently house over 250,000 prisoners – the mere number indicating the challenge with which the prison administration is faced in ensuring their safe, secure and humane custody.

In running these, the country’s Directorate-General of Corrections (DGC) is presented with additional issues, such as severe overcrowding, staff shortages, and – an aspect which is often less well known among the general public – the task of preparing prisoners for their eventual social reintegration into society.

The government needs to double its number of prison officers to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of inmates.

The current shortage of officers has created a situation that is not ideal in terms of the ratio between guards and prisoners. The country has 15,000 prison personnel at present, meanwhile the number of inmates increased by approximately 1,000 each month.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has carried out a sustained crackdown on Islamic militants since the 2002 Bali bombings by Jemaah Islamiyah network that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

The network was neutralized following the arrests of hundreds of its militants and leaders. But new threats have emerged recently from Islamic State group-inspired radicals who have targeted security forces and local “infidels” instead of Westerners.

 Email: elisa.valenta@theinsiderstories.com