Indonesian security forces yesterday stormed a riot-hit prison housing murderers, pedophiles 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 12 convicted Australians, during the night-long riot. Authorities said no foreigners were injured or involved in the trouble.
About 100 heavily armed police and military stormed the jail at around dawn, firing volleys of rubber bullets. Officials said they intervened after attempts to negotiate with the rioting prisoners had failed and after some inmates managed to get hold of firearms.
“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 said.
Another police official said later that an officer was also injured.
A 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, the Australian 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 spokesperson 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 armored vehicles and water cannon were stationed yesterday outside the jail, which is in a suburban area of Bali 7km from the tourism hub of Kuta beach.
“When we stormed in, they did put up a fight,” Bali police chief Totoy Herawan Indra told reporters.
“The prisoners also took firearms from inside the warehouse, but we seized them before they could be used,” he added.
Police and 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.
Police said the inmates were in charge for nearly seven hours — from about 11pm on Tuesday until 6:45am yesterday morning.
Prison staff said the jail’s registration office, including the files of prisoners, was destroyed in a blaze. The receiving area is close to the maximum-security section where two of the Bali Nine on death row are housed.
“The damage was quite serious. An office was burnt and window panes of the security posts were shattered by rocks,” Indra said.
Michael Chan, whose brother Andrew Chan is one of the Bali Nine, said he was worried about his brother given that during a previous riot “things got pretty bad and they were in lockdown for a couple of days.”
Schapelle Corby’s family said she was well, with the women’s wing of the prison untouched by the violence.
Corby, who is serving a 20-year jail sentence for drug smuggling, continues to profess her innocence and in her book No more tomorrows, says she has “seen horrors in here that are sickening beyond belief.”