Around 160 civilians were also being treated at Budi Kemuliaan Hospital due to tear gas."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - National Police spokesperson Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar said that the police officers were not allowed to use firearms to disperse the massive peaceful rally on Friday night (Nov. 4).

"Police officers fired tear gas at protesters in front of the State Palace at around 19.30 pm. The protesters had been instructed to disperse," he said here on Saturday.

The tear gas was fired after demonstrators started throwing bottles, stones and wood at police officers.

He said that 18 police and military vehicles were damaged by the protesters.

Meanwhile, two police personnel, five military personnel and a fireman were injured and were receiving treatment at the Gatot Subroto Army Central Hospital (RSPAD) in Central Jakarta, he said.

"Around 160 civilians were also being treated at Budi Kemuliaan Hospital due to tear gas," he remarked.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) earlier expressed his regret over the clash that started after demonstrators in front of the Merdeka Palace here on Friday began dispersing at around 7:00 pm local time.

"We deplore the incident after the Isha (evening prayer), which should have been dispersed but turned violent. We believe that it has been exploited by political actors who made use of the situation," Jokowi said at a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta early on Saturday.

The clash started in front of the Merdeka Palace in Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara and Medan Merdeka Barat after the crowd began to disperse as requested by the field coordinator.

However, Jokowi also expressed his appreciation to Muslim scholars, Habib and Muslim leaders who have maintained the rally in an orderly manner and according to the rules.

He also said it was agreed in the meeting with representatives of the demonstrators that the legal proceedings against Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja will be conducted firmly, fast and transparent.

Therefore, the president asked the demonstrators to return to their residences in an orderly manner and avoid provocation.

"I appreciate the hard work of the security forces who held a persuasive approach in maintaining the situation so that it remained conducive," Jokowi added.

The president had earlier asked the people to remain calm after more than 100 thousand Muslims decided to hold the peaceful rally in a show of support for the edict issued by the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) against Ahok.

At the rally, the demonstrators urged law enforcement agencies to take legal action against Ahok for his alleged blasphemous statement concerning the Holy Quran.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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