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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 15:15 GMT
Maluku refugees allege forced circumcision

The Indonesian army has evacuated hundreds of Christian refugees from two remote islands Kesui and Teor in the troubled Maluku province after the refugees said they'd been forced to convert to Islam.

A church worker Cornelius Bohm said that some of the men had been circumcised against their will.

A commander of the Muslim paramilitary group, the Laskar Jihad Jafar Umar Thalib confirmed to the BBC that circumcisions had taken place but said that noone had been forced to do anything.

Correspondents say Christian villagers sometimes switch religions to protect themselves from Muslim gangs.

Thousands of people have died in the sectarian violence that has plagued the archipelago since trouble first broke out over small communal problems two years ago.

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