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How Things Went So Bad, So Fast At Bali Prison

Denpasar. Security forces were assessing the damage at Bali’s Kerobokan prison after storming it early on Wednesday to put down a riot that had raged through the night.

Prisoners overwhelmed the paltry team of guards on duty late on Tuesday and took over the prison. They then set fire to all the offices in the prison, which were destroyed along with documents and around Rp 100 million ($11,000) in cash.

Thirty assault rifles and ammunition were destroyed when the prisoners set fire to the room where the weapons were stored .

Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen. Totoy Herawan Indra, who led the operation to take back Kerobokan, said the police would inventory the prison’s arsenal.

“Securing the prison’s weaponry is our priority,” he said. “We don’t want inmates getting ahold of any guns.”

No one escaped during the violence, said Sihabuddin, di rector general of peniten tiary affairs at the Ministry of Justice.

The ministry, he added, would determine whether the guards had done everything in their power to prevent the violence.

This latest violence came on the heels of another riot at the prison on Sunday. An inmate, Made Eriyasa, was attacked by three other inmates and stabbed, which set off retaliatory attacks that quickly turned into a full-scale riot. That incident also led to damage at the prison and some inmates almost escaping.

Tuesday’s violence started when the stabbing victim, Eriyasa, and three of his friends asked prison guards about the knife used in the attack on him, according to the prison’s security chief, Anang Khuzaini. The inmates then attacked the guards.

Hundreds of other inmates then forced open their cell doors and powered their way out of the holding area. The guards on duty were unable to take control of the situation and the prisoners set the offices alight.

“Only one security team of 20 people was on duty and they had to face 1,014 inmates,” Anang said. “We were outnumbered. There was no way to hold them back.”

The guards fled the compound. “At that point we no longer knew what was happening inside. All we could see were flames,” Anang said.

More than 800 police officers and one company from the local military command, equipped with water cannons, were deployed to control the situation. Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika also arrived at the scene.

But the prisoners blocked the doors, preventing officers from getting inside. Totoy, the police chief, was unable to get the prisoners to surrender, even after threatening to open fire.

At sunrise, after assessing the situation, the security forces began their assault. They scaled the walls and shooting was heard for the next 30 minutes.

By 8:30 a.m. officials had regained control. Three inmates who had been hit with rubber bullets were taken to Sanglah Hospital. They were identified as Suprianto, Romy and Tirtayasa.

Some were quick to blame overcrowding in the prison for the riot. There are 1,015 people in Kerobokan, or 315 percent over its official capacity.

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