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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 13:13 GMT
Bomb blasts follow Moluccan peace deal
Christian representative IWJ Hendriks and his Muslim communities counterpart Abdul Wahab Polpoke sign the peace agreement
The two sides agreed to work towards peace
A number of bomb blasts have hit Indonesia's Moluccan islands two days after a peace treaty was signed to end three years of violence between Muslims and Christians.

Senior government officials condemned the attacks, but said they should not be taken as a sign the peace deal would fail.


It's an obvious attempt to foil [the peace accord]

Vice-President Hamzah Haz
Police in the city of Ambon said there were two blasts in the area dividing the Muslim and Christian communities; one news agency reported four explosions.

There were no reported casualties

Map
Indonesia Vice-President Hamzah Haz ordered the authorities to do everything possible to find those behind the blasts.

"It's an obvious attempt to foil [the peace accord], but I believe if all sides have agreed [to peace] such things can surely be contained," he told reporters.

Christian and Muslim leaders signed the government-mediated peace agreement at Malino, in South Sulawesi, on Tuesday.

Both sides agreed to hand over weapons and end the violence that has killed more than 5,000 people and forces hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Paramilitaries

The violence broke out in January 1999, sparked by a minor traffic accident.


Every citizen of this country has the right to stay anywhere he wants

Ayip Syarifuddin, Laskar Jihad
In mid-2000 a Java-based paramilitary Muslim group, the Laskar Jihad, went to the Moluccas, declaring "holy war" against Christians there.

The peace deal calls for an independent inquiry into the activities of Laskar Jihad as well as into two Christian separatist groups, the Front for the Sovereignty of Maluku and the South Maluku Republic (RMS) movement, and a Christian group called Laskar Kristus.

Laskar Jihad - which took no part in the talks - has said it will not leave the islands, despite calls for it to do so.

"Every citizen of this country has the right to stay anywhere he wants," the group's spokesman, Ayip Syarifuddin, told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

The Christian and Muslim communities are almost evenly split in the Moluccas, while Indonesia as a whole is 85% Muslim.

National police chief General Da'i Bachtiar said police were hunting the bombers. He also said both sides in the religious conflict had three months to surrender their weapons to authorities.

"After that we will conduct sweeps and those who possess weapons will be dealt with firmly," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

See also:

12 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Moluccan peace deal
11 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Moluccan leaders agree to peace
20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sulawesi factions agree peace plan
12 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Moluccas tense after riots
04 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Afghan fighters 'seen' in Sulawesi
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Laskar Jihad?
26 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Troubled history of the Moluccas
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