The term thumb war took on a morbid meaning in Blitar regency, East Java when a woman bit off her neighbor’s opposable limb while they were harvesting chili peppers.
The incident began when the suspect, RN (35), was sorting the day’s chili harvest on Monday afternoon with her mother, RB, her husband, Sr, as well as the victim, S (59). While they were carrying out the task, S reminded RN that she should report to the owner of the chili field about joining the work, or she might not get paid.
Ardyan Yudho, who heads Blitar Police’s Criminal Investigation Unit, said RN took offense at S’ suggestion and responded by blurting in Javanese, “Shut your mouth! Think before you speak, we are both farm workers.”
S reportedly felt disrespected by the exchange and confronted RN. The conflict quickly turned physical with RB trying to pull RN away from S, but the suspect still managed to grab a handful of the victim’s hair and bit off the thumb on her left hand.
“The piece of thumb was left in the suspect’s mouth, then she spat it out to the ground. So the bite immediately cut off the victim’s thumb,” Ardyan said today.
While initial reports appear to suggest that RN and RB ganged up on S, Ardyan said police’s investigation into the case suggests that that wasn’t the case.
After the incident, S was taken to a local puskesmas (community health clinic) for medical treatment, with the assault reported to authorities soon after. It’s not yet clear whether or not she had her thumb reattached.
RN has since been arrested and charged with assault under Indonesia’s Criminal Code (KUHP), which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.