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The BBC's Jonathan Head reports
"Political difficulties back home hung over Mr Wahid"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Sulawesi violence claims 18 lives
Map
By Richard Galpin in Jakarta

Police in Indonesia say at least 18 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in another outbreak of communal violence on the island of Sulawesi.

A gang of men wearing masks and armed with home-made guns reportedly attacked a village in the central district of Poso in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of extra policemen and soldiers are being sent to the central region of the island to prevent the violence spreading.

Last year around 200 people were killed in a series of clashes between the Christian and Muslim communities.

Backlash

Initially 13 bodies were found by the police but more were discovered floating down the river on Wednesday.

Sualwesi refugees in 2000
About 200 people died in violence last year
The victims are reported to be all Muslims. Now there are reports of revenge attacks by the Muslim community, with buildings being set on fire, including a church in the town of Poso itself.

The police are reported to have fired warning shots to restore order in the town.

The situation in the area is extremely tense and the authorities have announced police and military reinforcements are being sent in.

Tensions building

This is the worst outbreak of violence in central Sulawesi for 12 months.

In May and June last year about 200 people died in savage fighting between the Muslim and Christian communities.

Tension had been building again in the Poso region in recent weeks, with a series of mysterious attacks on villages in which several people had been killed.

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See also:

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31 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
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