Women Looking for Missing Child Beaten by Mob

Banda Aceh. TAG. Two women in Aceh are in critical condition after being beaten on Saturday by a mob of villagers who mistook them for kidnappers.
 The victims were identified as Yuniarti, 45, a survivor of the 2004 tsunami in Banda Aceh, and her friend, Syafira, 40, a civil servant in Tamiang district.
Authorities said the women had gone to the Gempong Kuala elementary school in Langsa to visit a sixth-grader named Febi Gebriana who looked like Yuniarti’s missing daughter.
The child was last seen six years ago, before the Dec. 26 tsunami, which claimed the lives of over 160,000 people in Indonesia and thousands more in countries around the Indian Ocean. Yuniarti has been looking for her daughter since.
Yosi Muhamartha, chief of the Langsa District Police, said the women’s visit to the school seemed suspicious to the villagers, who were on edge over text messages warning about alleged kidnappings in Aceh.
Yosi said some residents brought Yuniarti and Syafira to the village chief’s office for questioning over why they wanted to visit a particular student.
The women, meanwhile, said they simply wanted to see Febi and had gotten permission from the school’s principal to do so.
A witness said hundreds of villagers soon marched into the office and attacked Yuniari and Syafira, refusing to stop even when police arrived and fired warning shots.
“The residents have been worried because of rumors about abductions,” Yosi said. “The angry mob didn’t care. They beat up the two women until they were in critical condition.”
The same witness said police were able to carry Yuniarti and Syafira away from the mob and into a waiting patrol car. Even then, the witness said, villagers chased after the vehicle.
The victims were rushed to a nearby hospital, but Syafira had to be transferred to a bigger hospital in Medan because she had a collarbone fracture  and wounds all over her body.
Yuniarti also sustained serious injuries and had to undergo intensive medical treatment at Langsa General Hospital.Yosi said both women had “good intentions” when they visited the school and it was unfortunate that villagers resorted to violence when they confronted the victims.
The police chief said he suspected someone in the village persuaded other residents to attack Yuniarti and Syafira.
Some suspects have been questioned by the police in Langsa, but none have been arrested for the attack, according to Yosi.
Authorities have warned residents in Aceh against vigilantism, saying the text messages about kidnappings in the province were unfounded.
In Aceh’s western coast, however, villagers have formed patrols in their areas and begun conducting checks on passing cars at night, in response to the text-message warnings.
Yosi said police and regional government officials were working together to correct this misinformation.
“The rumor is baseless, started by some irresponsible people to create fear within the society,” he said. “So far, there have been no [recent] kidnapping cases in Langsa.”[]
Women Looking for Missing Child Beaten by Mob Women Looking for Missing Child Beaten by Mob Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on December 14, 2010 Rating: 5

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