Three Students Found Dead In Flooded Indonesian Cave



Three university students were found dead in a cave in Indonesia after they were trapped inside by flood waters, officials said Monday.

A search and rescue operation launched on Sunday retrieved five people alive from Lele cave in West Java after heavy rain hit the area and flooded it, authorities said.

The victims “were trapped inside the cave for quite a while before the team managed to evacuate them,” said local search and rescue agency spokeswoman Seni Wulandari.

She added it took an hour for the rescue team to make it into the cave, which is 30 metres below ground level.

The students — part of a university nature club — went there to train in basic caving.

A senior member of the club who helped with the evacuation, Ari Alfian, said the weather was normal when the students entered the cave, but an unexpected heavy downpour hit the area.

“Water entered the cave like a waterfall. Initially only five students were inside the cave, including the victims,” Alfian told AFP on Monday.

“Another three came in to rescue them as the bad weather arrived. They were all trapped but only five managed to survive.”

The rainy season started in late November and several regions in Indonesia including West Java have been hit by bad weather and storms in the past two weeks.


Cholera Kills Over 27,000 Pigs In Indonesia

In this file photo taken on June 26, 2019, Pigs are seen at the Meloporc farm in Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Quebec, Canada. Sebastien St-Jean / AFP


More than 27,000 pigs have died in a hog-cholera epidemic that has struck Indonesia, with thousands more at risk, an animal welfare official said.

Thousands of pigs have died in more than a dozen regencies across North Sumatra over the past three months, and the pace of deaths is increasing, authorities said.

“Every day, between 1,000 and 2,000 pigs are dying. It’s quite a high figure,” said Agustia, the veterinary office chief in Medan who goes by one name, on Friday.

Still, he added that the current death toll was a small fraction of the 1.2 million hogs in North Sumatra, a part of Muslim-majority Indonesia that is predominantly Christian and where pork is an important part of local fare.

Last month, more than 1,000 cholera-stricken pigs were buried in the province after their decaying carcasses were plucked from local waterways, as police searched for suspects who discarded them.

Previously, lab tests found that the animals died of hog cholera but officials said they are also testing to see if any were infected with African swine fever. Neither are believed to pose a risk to humans.

In 2017, a hog cholera outbreak in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province killed more than 10,000 pigs, causing severe financial losses for local farmers.


Indonesia Hit With $5.2bn In Forest-Fire Losses

This handout picture taken on September 17, 2019 shows Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspecting the damages from the ongoing forest fires in Pekanbaru.  AFP


Forest fires that raged across Indonesia dented Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to the tune of some $5.2 billion, the World Bank said Wednesday, not including the health impacts from toxic haze that sent air quality plummeting.

The fires are an annual problem but this year was the worst since 2015 due to dry weather, with 942,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) of land, mostly on Sumatra and Borneo islands, razed by the out-of-control blazes.

Authorities deployed tens of thousands of personnel and water-bombing aircraft to tackle the slash-and-burn blazes set to clear agricultural land, including on palm oil and pulp plantations.

On Wednesday, the World Bank said the economy took a hit of some $5.2 billion, equal to about 0.5 percent of gross domestic product.

That included $157 million in direct damage and another $5 billion from losses in the agriculture, industry, trade, tourism, transportation and environmental sectors, according to the Washington-based bank.

A dozen airports and hundreds of schools in Indonesia — as well as neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore — closed temporarily, while more than 900,000 people reported respiratory illnesses, it said.

“The agriculture and environmental sectors make up over half of the estimated loss, because fires damaged valuable estate crops and released significant greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere,” the bank said in its Indonesia Economic Quarterly report.

Many fires were on swampy, carbon-rich peatlands which become highly flammable when they are drained of water to grow crops.

Indonesia’s 2019 fires were estimated to have produced almost double the emissions caused by blazes in the Brazilian Amazon this year.

The World Bank’s cost estimate doesn’t include longer-term effects of repeated exposure to haze, such acute respiratory illnesses, or lost school time after students and teachers were advised to stay home, it added.

The United Nations has warned that Indonesia’s forest fires put nearly 10 million children at risk, as they released vast amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Last year, Indonesia issued a moratorium on new forest clearance for palm oil plantations, to reduce the outbreak of fires.


Two Injured In Indonesia Grenade Explosion

Indonesian police carry equipments after examining a blast site in Jakarta on December 3, 2019. BAY ISMOYO / AFP


Two Indonesian soldiers were injured Tuesday after a smoke grenade detonated near Jakarta’s national monument, but authorities ruled out an attack.

The blast occurred around 7:00 am local time (1200 GMT) as military and police personnel were taking a morning jog around the leafy grounds in the centre of the capital.

“We’re now investigating why the smoke grenade was there,” Jakarta police chief Gatot Eddy told reporters, adding that the two injured had been rushed to hospital.

“One of them was wounded on the hand and the other was injured on the leg,” he said.

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There is a military barracks on the grounds of the national monument.

Gatot said there was no indication of an attack.

Jakarta military chief Eko Margiyono also stressed that there was no indication that the explosion was anything but an accident.

“This wasn’t something extraordinary,” he added.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, has long struggled with Islamist militancy and has suffered regular attacks.

In October, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered beefed-up security after two militants from a terror group stabbed his chief security minister.

He survived the attack, which led to the arrests of dozens of suspects.


Indonesia Ministries Ban Pregnant, Disabled, LGBT Job Seekers – Report

Map of Indonesia


Several Indonesian ministries are banning pregnant, disabled, or LGBT job hunters in favour of what one called “normal” applicants, the Ombudsman said on Friday, slammed as “arbitrary and hateful restrictions” by a rights group.

The report comes as the world’s biggest Muslim majority country takes applications from millions of candidates who are applying for some 200,000 civil-service jobs nationwide.

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of some 260 million, has seen a jump in discrimination against gay and transgender people in recent years — while sexism in the workplace is also prevalent.

On Friday, Ombudsman Indonesia commissioner Ninik Rahayu said an investigation found that the defence and trade ministries as well as the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) were discriminating against candidates in their job advertisements.

“The Defense Ministry prohibits pregnant women from applying for a job, while the AGO and the trade ministry ban transgender people,” Ninik told AFP.

“(The AGO) even made a hurtful statement that said ‘we only accept normal people’,” she added.

“Banning people from applying for a job simply because they are transgender is not acceptable and is a violation of human rights,” she added.

The Ombudsman called on the ministries to revoke their hiring policies but only the trade ministry has so far complied, Ninik said, adding her office first noticed the discrimination this year.

On Thursday, an AGO spokesman told reporters that the institution banned gay and transgender applicants in favour of “normal” candidates.

On the AGO’s website, it said job applicants must not be colour blind, physically or “mentally” disabled including those who have ‘sexual orientation disorders (transgender) or LGBT'”.

The restrictions amounted to a “hate-based policy”, said Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia.

“Indonesia should be trying to recruit the best and brightest to its civil service, not applying arbitrary and hateful restrictions,” he said, calling on the respective ministries to ditch the rules.

“This is against both Indonesia’s constitution and its obligations under international human rights law,” he added.

Endangered Tiger Kills Indonesian Farmer, Injures Tourist


An endangered Sumatran Tiger has mauled to death an Indonesian farmer and seriously injured a domestic tourist, a conservation official said Monday.

The fatal attack happened Sunday at the farmer’s coffee plantation on Sumatra island where the 57-year-old wrestled with the big cat before it killed him, according to Genman Hasibuan, head of the South Sumatra conservation agency.

“The farmer was attacked while he was cutting a tree at his plantation,” he told AFP on Monday.

The mauling came a day after the same tiger attacked a group of Indonesian tourists who were camping at a local tea plantation in South Sumatra’s Mount Dempo region.

One of the tourists was rushed to hospital for wounds to his back after the cat stormed into his tent, Hasibuan said.

The animal, which remains loose in the protected-forest area, is believed to be one of just 15 critically endangered tigers in South Sumatra, which has seen five tiger attacks this year, including two fatal incidents, Hasibuan said.

Human-animal conflicts are common in the vast Southeast Asian archipelago, especially in areas where the clearing of rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations is destroying animals’ habitats and bringing them into closer contact with people.

In March last year, a man was killed by a tiger in Sumatra’s Riau province while several months earlier a tiger also killed a plantation worker in the area.

Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered by protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with 400 to 500 remaining in the wild.



One Dead, Six Injured In Suicide Bombing At Indonesian Police Station


A suicide bomber blew himself up at a police station in Indonesia on Wednesday, killing himself and wounding six others, according to authorities who described the 24-year-old attacker as a “lone wolf”.

The motive for the attack was not immediately known, but police stations have been frequent targets for radicals in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, which has long struggled with Islamist militancy.

The blast happened around 8:45 am local time (0145 GMT) at the police compound in Medan on Sumatra island during morning roll call.

“For now, we believe he was a lone wolf,” national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.

“The anti-terror squad and forensics unit are still examining the crime scene,” he added.

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At least six people were wounded in the blast, including four officers and two civilians, but their injuries were not severe, he added.

The attacker — whose identification listed him as a student — wore an explosive device on his body, but Prasetyo did not say what kind of bomb was used.

A bloody corpse lying in the compound’s parking lot appeared to have been blown apart.

Police said the attacker was active on social media, while CCTV footage showed him entering the compound wearing a uniform worn by drivers of a popular ride-hailing service.

The attack came a day after Indonesia launched a website that lets the public report “radical” content posted by government workers, including material that promotes hate or intolerance.

The Southeast Asian nation of some 260 million has significant numbers of religious minorities — including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists — who have been targeted by radical Islamist groups amid concerns about rising intolerance.

Police stations have also been a frequent target of militants, some of whom have called for the pluralist country to become a strict Islamic state.

In August, authorities shot and arrested a militant who attacked officers at a station in Indonesia’s second-biggest city, Surabaya, while in June another was seriously wounded when he tried to blow himself up outside a police building on Java island.

Last month, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered beefed-up security after two militants from an Islamic State-linked terror group stabbed his chief security minister.

He survived the attack, which led to the arrests of dozens of terror suspects.

The attackers were identified as members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an extremist network loyal to IS and responsible for several previous attacks — including deadly suicide bombings at several churches in Surabaya last year.

10 ‘Unlawfully Killed’ In Indonesia Election Riots

Indonesian security personnel gesture as they secure a street in Jakarta on October 20, 2019, as President Joko Widodo is inaugurated for his second five-year term. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo was sworn in for a second term on October 20, as helicopters flew overhead and troops kept watch in the capital Jakarta — days after Islamist militants tried to assassinate his top security minister. PHOTO: GOH CHAI HIN / AFP


Ten people, including several teenagers, were killed in Indonesia’s post-election riots, the human rights commission said Tuesday, as it accused police of beating up protesters.

In its final report on the May riots, the agency Komnas HAM said four victims were underage and most had been shot in the capital Jakarta and demonstrations in Kalimantan, Indonesia’s section of Borneo island.

Indonesia’s rights commission called on police to find the perpetrators, who it suspected were “actors trained, organised and professional in using guns”. It did not elaborate.

“This is a tragedy,” commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara told AFP.

“These are unlawful killings — or killings that took place outside legal mechanisms — and that violates the criminal code,” he added.

The commission said it did not suspect authorities were behind the shootings.

But it accused police of using unnecessary force against protesters, including minors.

“The police used violence against children who joined the rally (in Jakarta) during which they said that they were beaten and kicked when arrested,” according to the report.

A Jakarta police spokesman declined to comment, saying that authorities had yet to see the agency’s report.

Supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto took to the streets after Indonesia’s Joko Widodo won re-election in the world’s third-biggest democracy.

Police detained some 465 people during two nights of street battles that paralysed central Jakarta, leaving hundreds injured, the rights agency said.

Also Tuesday, police on the island of Sulawesi said a half dozen officers had been slapped with three-week suspensions for bringing guns to protests last month in Kendari city, where two students died.

“They (the officers) were found guilty of not following orders by bringing firearms” to the rally, said Southeast Sulawesi police spokesman Harry Goldenhardt.

The force did not accuse officers of killing the students.

The pair died amid nationwide protests against a host of divisive legal reforms, including banning pre-marital sex and weakening the anti-graft agency.

Hundreds were injured in the demonstrations with police also accused of brutality against protesters.


Indonesia Marks Bali Bombings Anniversary


Dozens of mourners on Saturday commemorated the 17th anniversary of the Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people on the Indonesian resort island, as Islamic militant attacks continue to plague the country.

Grieving families and representatives from several embassies laid flowers and lit incense sticks at a memorial in the popular tourist hub Kuta, where radical Islamists detonated bombs in 2002.

A candlelight vigil was also being held to mark the country’s deadliest terror attack and remember the 202 victims — mostly foreign holidaymakers from more than 21 countries.

Local militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was blamed for the bombings, which took place at two popular nightspots, which accounted for all the victims, and the US consulate.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, has long struggled with Islamist militancy and on Friday President Joko Widodo ordered beefed-up security measures to help prevent further attacks.

The intervention followed Thursday’s assassination attempt on chief security minister Wiranto, a 72-year-old former army chief, by two militants from an IS-linked group.

Last year suicide bombers from the same IS-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) detonated explosives in three churches in the country’s second-largest city Surabaya, killing more than a dozen people.

Suspected IS Radical Stabs Indonesian Security Minister


A suspected IS radical stabbed Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto as he was stepping out of a vehicle Thursday, leaving two deep wounds in his stomach and injuring three others in the attack, officials said.

Television images showed security officers wrestling a man and a woman to the ground outside a university in Pandeglang on Java island after the attack on the 72-year-old, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“Someone approached and attacked him,” National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo, adding that the couple had been arrested.

Berkah Hospital spokesman Firmansyah said the former military general suffered “two deep wounds” in his stomach and may need surgery, but was conscious and in stable condition.

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Wiranto was later rushed by helicopter to the capital Jakarta.

The other three victims — a local police chief and two aides — had non-life threatening injuries, the hospital said.

The suspects were identified as 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21. Police said Alamsyah had been “exposed to ISIL radicalism”, without elaborating.

It was not immediately clear if either were members of one of the dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.

The attack comes just over a week before President Joko Widodo kicks off a second term after his April re-election.

In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot linked to deadly riots in Jakarta after Widodo’s victory.

A group of six people — arrested before they could carry out the killings — planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, police said at the time.

Wiranto, the former chief of the armed forces and a failed presidential candidate, is a major figure in Indonesian politics.

He has long been accused of human-rights violations and for crimes against humanity linked to violence following East Timor’s 1999 independence referendum.

Indonesia Slapped With FIFA Fine Over Match Crowd Trouble

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Indonesia’s national football association has been fined by FIFA over crowd trouble during a World Cup qualifier against Malaysia, the organisation said Wednesday.

The Football Association of Indonesia was slapped with a $45,000 sanction over the chaos in Jakarta last month, when Malaysian fans were threatened and pelted with projectiles during the visiting side’s 3-2 win.

Malaysia’s visiting youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq had to be evacuated from the match as violence broke out, sparking a formal apology from his Indonesian counterpart.

“PSSI respects the legal process and FIFA’s decisions,” the association’s secretary general Ratu Tisha Destria in a Wednesday statement, adding that changes were being made so violence “will not happen in the future”.

An qualifier match against Vietnam slated for next week has been moved from Jakarta to holiday island Bali to avoid similar crowd problems.

It also came after the PSSI said earlier this year that Indonesia and Australia were in preliminary talks about making a joint bid for the 2034 World Cup.

The incident marked another black eye for football in Indonesia, where the professional league has been tarnished by a host of problems, including match fixing scandals and deadly hooliganism.


At Least 20 Killed, Dozens Injured In Papua Unrest

Indonesian activists protest against the government’s proposed change in its criminal code laws in Bandung on September 23, 2019. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo on September 20 called for a delay in passing a new law that would outlaw gay and pre-marital sex after the controversial plan sparked a public outcry.
Timur Matahari / AFP


At least 20 people were killed and dozens more injured as fresh unrest erupted in Indonesia’s restive Papua region Monday, with some victims burned to death in buildings set ablaze by protesters, authorities said.

Papua, on the western half of New Guinea island, has been gripped by weeks of violent protests fuelled by anger over racism, as well as fresh calls for self-rule in the impoverished territory.

Sixteen people were killed in Wamena city where hundreds demonstrated and burned down a government office and other buildings, authorities said.

“Most of them died in a fire,” said Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto.

“The death toll could go up because many were trapped in burning kiosks,” he added.

Among the victims, 13 were non-Papuans and three were Papuans, Daryanto said, adding that a soldier and three civilians also died in provincial capital Jayapura, where security forces and stone-throwing protesters clashed Monday.

The soldier was stabbed to death, while three students died from rubber bullet wounds, authorities said, without elaborating.

About 300 people were arrested in connection with Monday’s protests, Daryanto said, adding that about 65 people had been injured.

The clashes in Papua had quietened down in recent days, but flared up again as hundreds took to the streets — and houses and stores went up in flames.

Monday’s protests in Wamena — mostly involving high-schoolers — were reportedly sparked by racist comments made by a teacher, but police have disputed that account as a “hoax”.

Indonesia routinely blames separatists for violence in Papua, its easternmost territory, and conflicting accounts are common.

Demonstrations broke out across the region and in other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago after the mid-August arrest and tear-gassing of dozens of Papuan students, who were also racially abused, in Indonesia’s second-biggest city, Surabaya.


A low-level separatist insurgency has simmered for decades in Papua, a former Dutch colony after Jakarta took over the mineral-rich region in the 1960s. A vote to stay within the archipelago was widely viewed as rigged.

Earlier Monday, authorities said the situation had been brought under control in Wamena, while an AFP reporter there said Internet service had been cut.

“Security forces have also taken steps to prevent the riots from spreading,” said National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo.

The airport in Wamena was shut Monday with some 20 flights cancelled due to the unrest, local media reported, citing an airport official.

Indonesia has sent thousands of security personnel to Papua to quell the recent unrest, and dozens were arrested for instigating the earlier riots.

At least five demonstrators and a soldier were killed, but activists say the civilian death toll is higher.

Last week the military said a toddler and teenager were among three people killed in a gunfight between security forces and independence-seeking rebels.