- Witnesses claim that police fired tear gas into the stands.
- They blocked exits as spectators tried to flee.
- Two police officers and at least 17 children were among those killed.
Witnesses to the calamity at the Indonesian football stadium, which claimed at least 125 lives and injured hundreds more, claim that police fired tear gas into the stands and blocked exits as people tried to flee the carnage.
At the Kanjuruhan football stadium in Indonesia’s East Java region on Saturday night, one of the bloodiest sporting tragedies in history occurred. There, witnesses described clashes between supporters and police, spectator deaths, and how they had survived.
When frightened fans running from clouds of police tear gas stampeded towards the stadium’s exits, many were crushed to death and died from suffocation. Two police officers and at least 17 children were among those killed.
Fitria Rahmawati, who attended the game in Malang city with her husband and children, claimed that the police were “100%” to fault.
Rahmawati described to Al Jazeera what happened when spectators, some of whom were intoxicated, broke through the barricades and attacked the field, prompting police to retaliate by firing tear gas into the crowd.
According to her, the gas was aimed not just at individuals who entered the field but also at onlookers in the stands.
She questioned, “How in the devil did they blast tear gas into the upper grandstand?
Other witnesses and a video clip from the football stadium that claimed to show flashes in the upper grandstand followed by white clouds of gas corroborated her claims.
Rahmawati described how she observed police and soldiers beat men and women “till their bones cracked” with batons. She also described how she saw spectators attack the police as well as other spectators who sought to put an end to the violence.
She admitted that she had to step on other individuals in order to escape because she was carrying two children.
Many of the dead and injured were taken to Dr. Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang, which is 23 kilometres (about 14 miles) north of the stadium, because the provincial hospitals were overwhelmed.
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The number of children killed in the tragedy has now reached 32….