Inmates set fire to Western Indonesia prison

MEDAN, INDONESIA (AP) — Angry inmates set fire to an overcrowded prison on Indonesia’s Sumatra island during a riot that erupted yesterday, officials said.

Hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed to take control of Kabanjahe prison in North Sumatra province, which is designed to house 193 inmates but now has more than 400, said Director General of Corrections at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry Sri Puguh Budi Utami. She said it was guarded by only eight officers.

Utami said the cause of the riot is still being investigated. A preliminary investigation showed it began after prisoners protested against the guards’ treatment of four inmates who were placed in isolation after being caught taking drugs into their cell, she said.

Other inmates, mostly arrested for drug offences, joined the protest and it turned violent, but there were no reports of deaths, Utami said.

Television video showed prisoners in an open field under heavy guard by soldiers while police removed others from the prison compound. Black smoke billowed from a building, and burnt office equipment and documents were scattered around the prison.

Smoke billows from Kabanjahe prison during a prison riot in Kabanjahe, North Sumatra, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP