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Jakarta corresondent Richard Galpin
"Strict military discipline"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 11:03 GMT
Hundreds flee Moluccas violence

Soldiers Soldiers surround a pipe-wielding man in Ambon

Hundreds of refugees are hiding in the forests of the Indonesian island of Buru to escape the religious violence sweeping through the region.

Fragile Archipelago
Clashes between rival Christian and Muslim groups in the last month have left hundreds of people dead.

On Buru, at least 20 people have died and at least 3,000 people have fled to neighbouring Ambon island. Up to 800 others are hiding in the hills, the Indonesian security forces have confirmed.

The army says it is trying to locate them to deliver medical aid and to help evacuate them to safer locations.

A large mixed-religion refugee camp has been set up inside the navy base at Ambon, the regional capital.

Strict military conditions have been imposed on the refugees to prevent outbreaks of violence.

Military officials said there were no reports of renewed clashes on Wednesday. But violence on Seram and Halmahera islands earlier this week left at least 20 dead.

Holy war

Muslims protesting outside the Indonesian parliament in Jakarta on Wednesday raised fears of a holy war, or jihad, after the latest violence.

Muslims Muslims called for a Jihad on Tuesday
The Front for the Defence of Islam group said that if Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid did not take action to end the clashes they would go to the Moluccas and join the fighting.

After the group made a similar call to arms on Tuesday outside the Interior Ministry, Mr Wahid warned Muslims from outside the Moluccas against going to the region for a holy war.

He said: "I don't care if they are going for a jihad. One thing is for sure, if they're threatening the safety of the state, we'll take action."

He said he had ordered the security forces to stop ships entering Moluccan waters and arrest passengers carrying weapons.

Mr Wahid said he would resist calls by several Muslim groups for him to resign if he could not end the violence on the Moluccan islands.

Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, but the population of the Moluccas is split evenly between Muslims and Christians

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: What provoked Moluccas violence?
10 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Tough times for Indonesia's military
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Troubled history of the Moluccas
24 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's year of living dangerously
09 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Ambon's divided camps ready to fight
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian Muslims urge restraint
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Muslim anger over Moluccas
01 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
New clashes in Moluccas

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