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Bangli Paralyzed by Civil Unrest

Rioting Between Two Villages in Bangli Regency of Bali Leaves 1 Dead, 15 injured and 500 Extra Police Keeping the Peace on Deserted Streets.

(7/22/2011) The regional capital of Bangli in Bali has been brought to a virtual standstill following street riots on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, involving thousands of local residents from the communities of Songan and Banjar Kawan that left one man dead and at least 15 injured.

The altercation started as a fight between students from the two communities that escalated to involve parents from Songan village marching on Banjar Kawan armed with swords, scythes, knifes and homemade spears.

The dead man was identified as Jero Slamet (55), who died after being hit with a blunt object. Forensic doctors also found a bullet, believed to have been fired by an air rifle, lodged in the man’s back.

Bali’s governor, Made Mangku Pastika, has angrily condemned the brawls, saying the action of the villagers was an embarrassment for Bali. Quoted in The Jakarta Post, Pastika said: “I was so concerned that such a trivial case – student brawls – could trigger a mass riot. It is so shameful. Please be grown up, residents!”

The riot was especially concerning given Bali’s current hosting of an international summit for ASEAN Foreign Ministers opened by Indonesian’s President. “Bali is currently in the international spotlight, All stakeholders in the society, including religious and community leaders, must find the root cause of the communal violence,” the governor added.

Police have brought more than 20 people in for questioning in the incident, naming 3 as suspects andplacing them under arrest as criminal suspects.

One day after the riot, on Wednesday, July 20th, 500 additional policeman were assigned to keep the peace in the regency. Press reports say all schools in Bangli were closed, many business remained boarded shut and government offices were largely empty.

Physically removed from the region’s capital of Bangli, restaurants and businesses at the Kintamani-Batur Volcano area remained open for business and operating normally on Wednesday. As an added precaution, however, a contingent of police patrolled the popular tourist area.

The chief of the Bali Tourism Authority, Ida Bagus Kade Subhisku, told Radar Bali he was certain the isolated incident would not have a negative impact on Bali tourism,while at the same time joining the governor’s call on the people of Bangli to adopt a more moderate approach to resolving conflicts.

Bangli is located about 70 kilometers from Bali’s capital of Denpasar and is the home district of Indonesia’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik.

The latest report from Beritbali.com on Thursday, July 21st said that Bangli remained quiet and strangely quiet as normal business activities remain on hold. Many businesses and markets remained closed two days after the violent outbreak.