Jakarta has descended into violent chaos with angry mobs torching cars and firing missiles and Molotov cocktails at police in post-election skirmishes. So far, six people have been confirmed dead and a further 200 injured.
A reportedly 50,000-strong security force used tear gas and water cannon to quell torrents of rocks, Molotov cocktails and other burning projectiles thrown by violent protesters who decried the re-election of incumbent President Joko Widodo, who won a second term with 55.5 percent of the vote.
His rival Prabowo Subianto, an ex-special forces commander, refused to accept the election result, claiming widespread election fraud, but without providing any evidence to support such allegations.
Footage from social media shows the extent of the overnight unrest and the sheer ferocity of the violence in some areas.
Widodo reportedly beat Subianto by 17 million votes or roughly 15 percent of the country’s population. Subianto has vowed to challenge the decision in Indonesia’s constitutional court.
Authorities are already on high alert, having arrested some 30 would-be suicide bombers who had planned to target the elections and subsequent protests.
Some 20 people have been arrested according to National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo. Post-mortem examinations are underway to determine the cause of death for those killed but he insisted that security forces, including some military personnel, deployed to contain the violence were not armed with live ammunition.
“We are still checking, but I need to reiterate those police officers were not equipped with live bullets,” Prasetyo told reporters. Authorities have also arrested three pro-Subianto activists including a retired general and a retired commander of Indonesia’s special forces, on suspicion of treason.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Chief security Minister Wiranto announced on Wednesday that the government will partially block social media to “avoid provocations” and “the spread of fake news.”