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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Indonesian vice-president visits detained militant

The vice-President of Indonesia, Hamzah Haz, has visited the arrested leader of an Islamic paramilitary group who has been accused of inciting religious violence in Maluku province.

The detained man, Jafar Umar Thalib, is the commander of the Lashkar Jihad.

He has been charged with inciting an attack on a Christian village ten days ago which left 13 people dead.

Before visiting him at police headquarters, Mr Haz told reporters that all Muslims were brothers and there was nothing wrong with sympathising with someone in trouble.

Correspondents say the visit shows the high level of support that the Muslim paramilitary group enjoys in Indonesia.

The detention on Saturday of the Lashkar Jihad commander sparked fresh fighting in Ambon city, leaving at least two more people dead.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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