Fire in Indonesia’s West Papua nightclub leaves 19 dead

A fight and a fire at a nightclub in Indonesia’s West Papua province have left at least 19 people dead.

One person was stabbed to death but the other victims were trapped by the fire that broke out at the Double O club in Sorong city, officials said.

It is unclear how the fire began but it followed a brawl between two rival groups armed with machetes and arrows.

The fight was not believed to be part of the separatist insurgency that has affected other parts of West Papua.

“Fights among youths in cities are normal, but that it has caused so many deaths, that is a first,” a police spokesman told Metro TV.

Police said they tried to evacuate people from the venue after the violent clash began at the nightclub at 23:00 local time on Monday.

A fire then engulfed the large building and burned it from the first floor up.

After firefighters extinguished the blaze on Tuesday morning they discovered 18 bodies in one of the nightclub’s upper-floor rooms.

Police had been trying to mediate since a brawl between the same two rival groups broke out on Saturday night.

Police have deployed forces in the town to prevent any further clashes, AFP news agency reports.

The area has been relatively unaffected by clashes between separatist rebels and Indonesian security forces in other parts of the province.