MALANG, KOMPAS.com - Elite Indonesian police officers were under investigation Tuesday over a stadium stampede that killed 131 people including dozens of children in one of the deadliest disasters in football history.
As public anger grew, police moved to punish those responsible for the crush in the city of Malang that witnesses say started when officers fired tear gas into packed stands to quell a pitch invasion.
"As the regional police chief, I am concerned, saddened and at the same time I am sorry for the shortcomings in the security process," East Java police chief Nico Afinta told a press conference Tuesday.
The terraces of the Kanjuruhan stadium were packed Saturday evening with 42,000 "Aremania", or Arema FC fans, for a match against fierce rivals Persebaya Surabaya.
But after a 3-2 defeat, the first home loss for more than two decades to their adversaries, fans streamed down to the pitch to confront players and management.
Police described the incident as a riot and said two officers were killed, but survivors accused them of overreacting.
Officers responded to the pitch invasion with force, kicking and hitting fans with batons, according to witnesses and video footage, prompting more fans to enter the pitch.
"If there was a riot, (tear gas) should be fired to the pitch, not in the stand," Danny Agung Prasetyo, coordinator of supporter group Arema DC, told AFP.
The death toll jumped again on Tuesday with local health official Wiyanto Wijoyo telling AFP six more victims had succumbed to their injuries.