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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Bomb kills three in Ambon
Damage from a bomb in Ambon in July
Ambon is the scene of frequent bomb blasts
A home-made bomb has killed three people in the Indonesian city of Ambon in the Moluccas islands.

According to the chief of the local police, Lieutenant Colonel Noviantoro, all of those killed on Thursday were girls aged between 14 and 17.

At least three people were also injured by the bomb, which exploded in a sports stadium where students were reported to be training for a regional sports event.

Ambon, some 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles) east of Jakarta, has been plagued by clashes between Muslims and Christians for the past three years.

Peace deal

Both sides signed a peace deal in February but tension remains high. In late July, 54 people were wounded in a bomb blast, although police said they did not suspect it was motivated by religious rivalry.

The religious violence in the Moluccas erupted in January 1999, sparked by a minor traffic accident in the main city of Ambon.

The violence intensified in mid-2000, with the arrival of the Islamic militia Laskar Jihad.

The group is accused of fuelling religious strife in the Moluccas and central Sulawesi, and some analysts link it to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda militant network.



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