Indonesian police hunt inmates after mass prison break

An armed plainclothes policeman (L) secures the around around Siak prison in Siak Sri Indrapura in Riau province on May 11, 2019 after rioting and a fire broke out at the detention centre leading to a prison break. (AFP)
Updated 11 May 2019

Indonesian police hunt inmates after mass prison break

  • The prisoners fled the jail in Siak district on Sumatra island after rioting and a fire
  • Footage on local TV stations showed the facility engulfed in flames

JAKARTA: More than 100 inmates escaped from an Indonesian jail on Sumatra island on Saturday, police said, in the latest breakout to hit the country’s creaking prison system.
The prisoners fled the jail in Siak district on Sumatra island early in the morning after rioting and a fire broke out at the detention center.
Footage on local TV stations showed the facility engulfed in flames.
Authorities launched a massive manhunt and 115 prisoners had been recaptured by late morning, Riau province police chief Widodo Eko Prihastopo said.
Dozens of detainees from a prison population of more nearly 650 remained at large, he added.
“Police with assistance from the army and surrounding community are still searching for the rest,” Prihastopo said.
The rioting was triggered after guards beat several inmates who were caught using methamphetamine, police said.
Three detainees suffered stab wounds and a policeman was shot during the rioting, the local health office told AFP.
Jailbreaks are common in Indonesia, where inmates are often held in unsanitary conditions at overcrowded prisons.
There was a spate of breakouts in 2013, including one where about 150 prisoners — including terror convicts — escaped from a jail.


3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

Updated 28 February 2020

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

  • The force would be a significant new player in the Sahel where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year
  • The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: African leaders have decided to work on deploying 3,000 troops to West Africa’s troubled Sahel region as extremist attacks surge, an African Union official said Thursday.
The force would be a significant new player in the sprawling, arid region south of the Sahara Desert where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year — at times working together in an unprecedented move.
The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems. That has sparked pressure from worried security allies including France and regional countries as well as a rare bipartisan outcry among lawmakers in Washington.
Smail Chergui, the African Union commissioner for peace and security, relayed the new troop decision that was taken at the recent AU summit during a meeting Thursday with visiting European Union officials.
The AU continental body is expected to work with the West African regional counterterror force G5 Sahel as well as the West African regional body ECOWAS, which has formed peacekeeping units in the past, Chergui said.
ECOWAS in September announced what Chergui called a “very bold” plan to counter extremism in the region, including mobilizing up to $1 billion through 2024.
“As you see and recognize yourself, the threat is expanding and becoming more complex,” Chergui said. “Terrorists are now even bringing a new modus operandi from Afghanistan and Al-Shabab” in Somalia.
It was not immediately clear what the next steps would be in forming the AU force for the Sahel, which has become the most active region in Africa for extremist attacks.
The force would join France’s largest overseas military operation, the 5,100-strong Barkhane, and the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, one of the hardest-hit countries in the attacks along with Burkina Faso and Niger.