As many as 19 people were killed after clashes between two groups at a Karaoke bar in the town of Sorong, police said on Tuesday, with most dying after the night spot caught fire. Sorong is the largest city in Indonesia's West Papua province.
"The clash broke out last night (Monday) at 11 pm. It was a prolonged conflict from a clash on Saturday," Sorong police chief Ary Nyoto Setiawan said in a statement.
One person was fatally stabbed in the fight early on Tuesday before the venue was set on fire with 18 people trapped inside, CNN reported, citing a police official.
Adam Erwini, a spokesman for West Papua police, said the deadly incident at the "Double O" Karaoke bar and nightclub in Sorong was still under investigation.
Fight Took Place Between Two Rival Gangs
Dedi Prasetyo, a spokesman for Indonesia's national police said the brawl was between two rival gangs from the neighbouring island of Maluku. "Fights among youths in cities are normal, but that it has caused so many deaths, that is a first," Erwini told Metro TV. TV images from local media showed a building blackened by the fire behind a police line and burnt vehicles.
The Sorong police chief noted that they found the bodies after firefighters extinguished the inferno. "The club was burnt from the first floor. We tried to evacuate as many people as possible, but after the firefighters extinguished the fire this morning, we found some bodies there," Setiawan added.
The identity of the 18 victims is not yet known because they have been charred beyond recognition. The bodies have been taken to a local hospital for identification and police is seeking help from locals to help identify the victims.
"We are also asking for information and seeking information from local people who feel that they have lost their families at the scene to report to assist the process of identifying the bodies," a Sorong police officer told CNN Indonesia.