Violent protest forces closure of Indonesian airport

TERNATE, Indonesia, AP

At least four people were wounded by gunshots and more than a dozen injured as police repelled thousands of protesters, some throwing rocks and glass shards, at an airport in eastern Indonesia, officials said.

Police first used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters armed with machetes, but later fired into the crowd as they threatened security officers and other people, said Lt. Col. Eddy Purwatmo, local police chief.

He said four protesters were shot in the legs, and six others — including four police — were seriously injured by rocks as riot police moved in to end the violent protest at Sultan Khairun Babullah Airport in Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province. Ten people were slightly injured.

The protesters, angry about the exclusion of a candidate from a governorship election, had traveled to the airport to try and stop electoral officials from leaving.

Some protesters blocked roads with garbage, oil drums and glass in an attempt to stop them reaching the airport, while others destroyed offices and houses in Ternate, forcing schools and business to shut down.

The airport was subsequently closed, the airport chief said.