Indonesian security forces today stormed a riot-hit prison housing murderers, paedophiles and Australian drug mules in Bali after a night of arson and rock-throwing.
Guards were forced to abandon the overcrowded Kerobokan prison,which holds 1,000 inmates including the 12 convicted Australians,during the night-long riot. Authorities said no foreigners were injured or involved in the trouble.
Some 100 heavily armed police and military stormed the jail on the holiday island at around dawn,firing volleys of rubber bullets. Officials said they intervened after attempts to negotiate with the rioting prisoners had failed.
“They were forced to open fire and three people were injured in the legs and taken to hospital,” Bali deputy police chief Ketut Untung Yoga Ana told AFP. Another police official said later that an officer was also injured.
An AFP photographer saw four people with wounds to the arms and legs being taken out of the facility on stretchers and driven away in ambulances,watched over by armed and helmeted officers.
All 12 Australian prisoners at Kerobokan,including two on death row and six serving life sentences,were safe,Australia’s foreign ministry said.
“The wing where the Australians are held is far from the place where we had the trouble. The Australians were not involved in any way,” said Bali police spokesman Hariadi,who like many Indonesians goes by a single name.
Among the Australians at the jail are convicted drug trafficker Schapelle Corby and a group known as the “Bali Nine”,who were caught attempting to smuggle drugs from Bali.
Up to 1,000 armed security forces backed by armoured vehicles and water cannon were stationed early today outside the jail,which is in a suburban area of Bali seven kilometres from the tourism hub of Kuta beach.
Police said they were still investigating the cause of the unrest,but local reports said the trouble began when one inmate stabbed another prisoner on Sunday,touching off reprisals that erupted into a full-blown riot.
Prisoners began trashing cells and throwing stones at the guards who were forced to abandon the jail — built for just 300 inmates but now housing more than three times that many prisoners,both male and female.
“Late in the evening on Tuesday the prisoners got angry and set fire to one of the offices and began hurling stones at prison staff,” police spokesman Hariadi said.
Australian media reports said that some inmates had gained access to the registration wing of the prison,within metres of the entrance to the facility,where they set offices and furniture alight.
The Australian Associated Press said the inmates were in charge for almost seven hours and that prison governor Siswanto described the situation at the time as “out of control”.