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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 15:51 GMT
New clashes in Moluccas

An Ambonese prepares ammunition for his makeshift rifle


Fresh violence between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia's Moluccas Islands has left 14 people dead and three others missing, officials say.

Fighting between the two communities, in which 350 people have been killed in the last week, has now spread to Seram, the largest of the islands.

Witnesses said most of the casualties on Saturday were caused by security forces firing into battling mobs.

Reports said Muslim schools, houses and mosques were also set ablaze in the town of Masohi on Seram.

"According to witnesses the victims were shot dead by members of the mobile brigade police during the clashes between Christians and Muslims," said an official from Al Fatah hospital in the Moluccas capital Ambon.

Military officials were not available for comment, and the allegations could not be verified.

Reinforcements

The latest violence in the region began on Friday when Christians retaliated after the destruction of a church in Ambon.


troops Extra troops have been sent to the islands to restore peace
The army despatched more reinforcements to the islands on Saturday in an attempt to end the fighting.

About 500 troops landed on Morotai island, a local commander said.

The Indonesian army, which has already sent more than 2,000 troops to the islands, has also imposed an overnight curfew in parts of the region, according to a general commanding troops in the area.

Thousands of people have fled their homes following this week's violence, the worst religious conflict in the country's 50-year history.

About 12,000 people have sought refuge from the fighting in army and police barracks and other installations, according to the military.

Christian leaders have appealed to the United Nations to send in peacekeepers to prevent the violence from escalating.

War zone

The clashes started in Ambon last Sunday, after a road accident in which a Christian driver hit a Muslim boy.



Rioting broke out in the centre of the port city, with people using guns, slingshots and home-made bombs.

Eyewitnesses said parts of Ambon looked like a war zone, with decapitated bodies on the streets.

The main Protestant church was burned down, as well as a mosque.

The violence, in which more than 70 people were killed, subsequently sparked three days of clashes on Halmahera Island.

Thousands of Christians went on a rampage burning houses, businesses and Muslim places of worship.

At least 1,200 people have died in the Moluccas since the sectarian clashes first erupted a year ago.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has admitted the situation is out of control, but has ruled out imposing martial law
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See also:
30 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Religious violence spreads in Moluccas
29 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Troops act against Ambon violence
28 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Church calls for Ambon peacekeepers
27 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Religious violence erupts in Ambon
15 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Ambon refugee crisis fears
12 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Wahid tells Ambon to stop fighting
05 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Sectarian clashes erupt in Indonesia
21 Mar 99 |  SPECIAL REPORT
Ambon's troubled history

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