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The BBC's Richard Galpin
"It is more or less a state of complete anarchy in Sampit"
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The BBC's Humphrey Hawkesley
"The Dayak mobs are out of control"
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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 17:31 GMT
Violence spreads in Borneo
Indigenous Dayaks, brandishing spears and machetes, roam the streets
Dayaks roam the streets searching for Madurese
Violence is spreading in the Indonesian province of Kalimantan where more than 165 bodies have been recovered after six days of fighting.

There are still many more bodies lying in the streets, many without heads

Doctor in Sampit

Indigenous Dayak fighters have seized control of parts of the province from the security forces and have been killing members of migrant communities, often by beheading them.

Thousands are attempting to flee Kalimantan, part of the island of Borneo, and the Indonesian navy has sent three ships to help the evacuation.

The World Bank has warned that the worsening political instability in Indonesia could bring about the collapse of the country's fragile economy, as the government focuses on curbing social and political unrest rather than much-needed economic reform.

The death toll is likely to exceed 200 in the worst violence in the region since 1997.

Then at least 1,000 migrants were killed by the Dayaks, who feel marginalised by rapid development in the region.

Burning houses

Some of the most bitter clashes have been on the road from the provincial capital to the town of Sampit.

Dayaks - the native tribes of Borneo - have been burning houses belonging to migrants from the island of Madura.

The BBC's Richard Galpin, who travelled along the road on Friday morning, saw a pile of about 30 bodies, including women and children - some were beheaded.

One village was nothing but flames and charred and twisted pieces of metal.

Much of the road was completely controlled by Dayak fighters armed with traditional weapons such as long machetes and spears.

They said their aim was to drive all the Madurese settlers out for good.

Large numbers of police and military in and around Sampit have made little attempt to quell the unrest.

Many more bodies

In Sampit town itself, some 13,000 Madurese have taken shelter with the army, waiting the arrival of ships expected on Friday night to ferry them to safety.

Escalating violence
Sunday: Killing and arson breaks out in Sampit - by Monday 20 dead
Tuesday: 30 houses burned in Kuala Kuanyan
Wednesday: Riot police in Sampit impose curfew - but deaths rise to 30
Thursday: Troops sent to the region - deaths reach 50
Friday: Dayaks control many areas - more than 140 dead

A doctor in Sampit, Qomaruddin Sukhami, said 165 bodies had been brought into local hospitals.

"But there are still many more bodies lying in the streets, many without heads," Doctor Sukhami told AFP.

The security situation is detiorating.

"The riots are spreading to other towns where there are still many Madurese, " police chief General Suroyo Bimantoro said on Friday.

The causes of the violence are still not clear.

General Bimantoro has said that two local officials had paid several men to stir up the long-standing hostility between locals and migrants.

The officials had reportedly lost their jobs due to new regional autonomy laws.

But this account of events could not be confirmed.

Job competition

Violence first broke out on Sunday. On Wednesday, just as security forces appeared to have gained control of the situation, fresh clashes broke out, leaving several dead. More houses were burned on Thursday, our correspondent says.

Thousands of migrants take shelter at a government office
Migrants sheltering in Sampit are desperate to leave

Around 30 houses were also torched on Tuesday in Kuala Kuanyan, another town about 170km (100 miles) from Sampit.

Clashes between the Dayaks and migrant Madurese - who are viewed in the country as aggressive settlers - go back decades, often fuelled by disputes over land and jobs.

The Madurese were relocated as part of a government development programme aimed at reducing overcrowding in other parts of Indonesia.

In recent years, following the end of former President Suharto's autocratic rule, long-suppressed ethnic tensions have erupted in many provinces of Indonesia across the archipelago's 13,000 islands.

The World Bank warned on Friday that "regional unrest and political and ethnic tensions threaten national unity" in Indonesia.

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See also:

23 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Beheading: A Dayak ritual
23 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Behind the Borneo clashes
21 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bloody clashes in Borneo
27 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Borneo clashes claim more lives
Who owns Indonesia?
21 Mar 99 | Asia-Pacific
Immigrants slaughtered in Borneo
19 Mar 99 | Asia-Pacific
Ethnic violence shakes Borneo
23 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Borneo violence
23 Feb 01 | Business
Indonesia at the crossroads
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