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Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 19:33 GMT
Horrors of Borneo massacre emerge
Refugees arrive from Kalimantan
Terrified refugees flee the violence
The discovery in Borneo of 118 decapitated bodies of Madurese settlers takes the death toll in more than a week of ethnic violence to over 400.

More details have emerged of a massacre on Monday in the Indonesian province of central Kalimantan where ethnic Dayaks have been killing and looting with the aim of driving out the immigrant Madurese.

Indonesian police say hundreds of Dayak tribesmen attacked a police-protected convoy of 300 Madurese refugees and butchered and beheaded nearly 200 of them.

They were not involved in the fight - they were beheaded they were butchered

Indonesian police

The refugees, fleeing almost 10 days of fighting, had been hiding in the jungle but returned to a town near the provincial capital of Palangakaraya after surviving for days without food for shelter.

They had apparently secured agreement from the Dayaks that they could then be transported out of the area. But instead of being allowed to leave, some - including women and children - were taken to the football ground and killed.

'Total panic'

The bodies were discovered on Monday, but speaking on Tuesday, national police spokesman Dede Widayadi said policemen escorting the group from remote villages to the city of Sampit were overwhelmed and ran away.

"The group split up due to a lack of vehicles and the Dayaks attacked those who were left behind," Mr Widayadi said.

Another police commander, Tato Suharto, told AFP news agency that police had been outnumbered and there was "total panic" when the convoy was attacked.

"They were beheaded, they were butchered, they were chopped up," he said.

It has also been confirmed that seven people have been killed in the provincial capital, Palangkaraya some 220km (137 miles) north of Sampit.

Police have started disarming Dayak tribesmen rampaging through the city looting and burning.

Elsewhere, in a sign of the increasingly tense security situation, a gunfight broke out between police and soldiers in the river port of Sampit.

"It was a misunderstanding between police and soldiers .... there were some shooting casualties, but at this stage I can't confirm the number," said Mr Widayadi.

Refugees relocated

Dayak gangs have butchered men, women and children with machetes, spears and axes.

Thousands of terrified refugees have been moved from jungle hideaways to makeshift camps.

A hospital official said about 13,000 people were being relocated from the jungle to a refugee camp next to the police station in Sampit.

Two navy vessels were due later on Tuesday to carry the refugees to a safer location.

Madurese woman trying to board transport
Madurese are desperate to get on boats out of Borneo
About 10,000 refugees have already been evacuated by ship.

The Indonesian Government on Monday pledged to halt ethnic violence on Borneo within three days.

It warned that the killings of migrants could continue in some outlying districts which are difficult for the security forces to reach.

To the north, Malaysia is stepping up patrols along its land border with Indonesia, amid fears of an influx of refugees.

The Dayaks say they will not stop until they have forced the entire migrant population out of the Kalimantan area - in total at least 60,000.

The bloody outbreak of violence - the worst in the region since 1997 - is the latest of a series on the island, sparked mainly by disputes over land and jobs.

The Dayaks - traditionally farmers and hunters - feel marginalised by rapid development in the region and view the migrant Madurese as aggressive settlers.

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See also:

27 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pressure builds in Borneo camps
27 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Borneo terror
27 Feb 01 | Media reports
Indonesia press anger over Borneo
23 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Beheading: A Dayak ritual
23 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Behind the Borneo violence
21 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bloody clashes in Borneo
Who owns Indonesia?
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