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129 people killed in stampede at Indonesia football match

JAKARTA - At least 129 people were killed when angry fans invaded a football pitch after a match in Malang, East Java in Indonesia late on Saturday, police said.

"Thirty-four people died inside the stadium and the rest died in hospital," East Java police chief Nico Afinta said in a statement on Sunday.

Two of those who died were police officers. Around 180 people were injured.

Indonesia’s sports minister Zainudin Amali said the authorities would re-evaluate safety at football matches and consider not allowing spectators.

“We’re sorry for this incident... this is a regrettable incident that ‘injures’ our football at a time when supporters can watch football matches from the stadium,” he told broadcaster Kompas.

“We will thoroughly evaluate the organisation of the match and the attendance of supporters. Will we return to banning supporters from attending the matches? That is what we will discuss.”

The match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya took place at the Kanjuruhan Stadium. After Arema lost 3-2 on its home field, dozens of fans rushed to the field. The Times of Indonesia reported that security officers tried to keep the crowd at bay by hitting and kicking supporters.

As fights broke out, authorities fired bursts of tear gas onto the field and into the stands. One video from the scene showed fans running away from clouds of tear gas on the field.

Local news outlets said thousands of fans struggled to breathe and several fainted.  

The league immediately suspended play for at least a week.

Football violence has long been a problem for Indonesia. Violent, often deadly rivalries between major teams are common. Some teams even have fan clubs with so-called commanders, who lead armies of supporters to matches across Indonesia.

Flares are often thrown on the field and riot police are a regular presence at many matches.  Since the 1990s, dozens of fans have been killed in earlier football-related violence. - NYTIMES, AFP, REUTERS

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