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Banten Police Say Only Two Suspects Detained in Ahmadiyah Attack
February 11, 2011
A police officer outside the house of an Ahmadiyah cleric, Suparman, in Cikeusik district, Pandeglang, Banten after an attack that killed three people on Sunday. (Antara Photo)
Of five suspects identified in Sunday’s deadly mob attack on an an Ahmadiyah community in Cikeusik district, Pandeglang, only two are in police custody, according to Banten Police Chief Brig. Gen. Agus Kusnadi. The other three, identified only as Banten “clerics,” are still free because there is no strong legal basis to detain them.
Agus also said the police have identified the person who gave the order to launch the attack that eventually killed three people and caused widespread shock for the brutality of the incident. A graphic videotape of the mayhem has circulated widely.
In addition, Agus insisted, as have other officials, that the attack on the Ahamdiya followers was “provoked” by the minority group in the face of an angry mob seeking to oust them from the village.
“Our investigation shows the order to attack was made by text message and we have already obtained the identity of the person who gave the command. We are hunting him down,” Agus said, adding that the police are also trying to identify other attackers.
“From the video footage, the attackers wore blue ribbons on their shirts. They came from Cibaliung, Cigeulis and Panimbang districts but we don’t know yet if they are from the same mass organization,” he said.
Agus rejected the accusation that the attack was the result of police negligence.
“We didn’t let it happen, we had anticipated it. The clash happened because there was provocation from the people who were attacked and the big number of attackers,” he said.
According to Agus, on Feb. 3, Pandeglang Police received an SMS saying there would be an eviction and disbandment of Ahmadiyah followers in Cikeusik by fundamentalist Muslims who object to the group’s theology.
On Feb. 4, Pandeglang Police coordinated with local government officials to take actions regarding the SMS, he said.
On Feb. 5, the Pandeglang Police evacuated an Ahmadiyah cleric, Suparman, and members of his family who had been living in the village. Local residents had complained that they did not want Suparman in the village any longer,
On Feb. 6, the day of the attack, at 3 a.m., Agus said, the local chief of police sent officers to Cikeusik. Their duty was to secure Suparman’s empty house.
At 7 a.m. three groups of Ahmadis from outside Cikeusik arrived at Suparman’s house despite the police trying to persuade them to leave the area. “But they didn’t want to be evacuated, they said they want to defend their organization’s asset [Suparman’s house],” Agus said.
At about 10 a.m., a mob of some 1,500 people came to Suparman’s house. The Ahmadis inside the house, Agus said, provoked them and an attack was inevitable.
“There were only 120 police officers and they could not control the situation,” he said.