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Violent Rumblings in Bali's Nightlife Mecca

Brief Outbreak of Street Violence in Bali Sullies Bali's Reputation for Safety and Security.

(4/26/2010) Kuta's reputation as the "wild, wild west" of Bali was further augmented by the most recent outbreak of street violence on the evening of Friday, April 16, 2010. The violent incident that occurred at the Sky Garden Disco saw several people injured and, at its height, had police firing warning shots to disperse the rowdies. The incident, however, is being downplayed by police authorities and the spokesman for the discotheque as little more than a "simple misunderstanding."

Quoted in BeritaBali.com, Mohamad Rifan, legal counsel to the Sky Garden, said there was no need to spotlight the event due to the fact that no one was killed in the altercation. Claiming that the incident was not the result of gang warfare, Rifan said the problem traced to a misunderstanding between one of the Sky Garden employees and a person trying to gain free admittance to the nightspot.

Rifan explained: "Kuta is a tourism center and we must create a feeling of safety and security. If guests decide not to come, we have problems and the economy of Bali can come to a standstill."

The violent incident appeared on social networking sites, including twitter and facebook, where it became topical in real time as the situation unfolded with various reports incorrectly stating that three had died in Kuta street violence. Added Rifan: "All this is not correct. Nobody died. The police only fired the guns to disperse the crowds."

In a separate report in detik.com, the Head of Denpasar's Metropolitan Police, I Gde Alit Widana, denied that the Sky Garden incident was an outbreak of violence between competing gangs, saying what took place was a "routine" fight between street thugs who feel they have a right to "rule over" Kuta. Widana added: "It is a big mistake to say anyone died. This was a simple fight. A fight between individuals. One of the arms of the participants was injured after being hit with a piece of wood."

The violent outbreak reportedly began when security guards at the Sky Garden refused admittance to visitors who tried to gain free admittance to the bar by using the name of one of the employees. The visitors were asked to wait while a check was made with the named employee. The two visitors, feeling they were being unfairly detained, used their hand phones to seek assistance from a large group of friends who quickly arrived at the Sky Garden. The growing crowd began to throw bottles at the bar, prompting a troop of mobile brigade police to arrive on seen where, shortly thereafter, they fired warning shots to disperse the street mob.