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The BBC's Matt Frei reports
"The two communities used to live side by side; now they are out to kill each other"
 real 28k

Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"Security forces fired warning shots"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 January, 2000, 15:23 GMT
Riots hit Indonesian resort

Moluccas refugees People are fleeing the Moluccas in their droves

Thousands of Muslims in Indonesia have rampaged through the main town on the tourist island of Lombok, torching churches after a peace rally turned violent.

Fragile Archipelago
Several people, including two policemen, are said to have been injured.

The rioting came after a rally to protest against more than 500 sectarian deaths in the Moluccan islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago since the end of last month.

Police fired warning shots and cordoned off a number of churches as rioters chanting anti-Christian slogans roamed the streets of the Lombok capital, Mataram, just 30km (20 miles) east of the popular resort island of Bali.

Muslim refugees Many have been left homeless in the Moluccas

Eyewitnesses said the rioters, who wielded machetes and Molotov cocktails, shouted: "Finish off the Christians and finish off their churches."

Security officials said seven churches had been burned.

Violence also flared in the neighbouring town of Ampenan, not far from the airport. Calm is reported to have returned to Mataram by nightfall.

Mainly-Muslim Lombok has large Hindu and Christian populations.

There have been massive demonstrations in the capital, Jakarta, with some Muslims calling for a Jihad, or holy war, against Christians in the Moluccas.

President Abdurrahman Wahid, himself a prominent Muslim leader who advocates religious tolerance, has rejected the calls.

Moluccas violence

There were reports of more clashes in the main spice island of Ambon over the weekend. As many as five civilians were killed and four policemen wounded in fighting between two Muslim villages.

Indonesian troops with a Muslim fighter Thousands of Indonesian troops have been called into Ambon

Fighting fuelled by religious and ethnic tensions broke out a year ago between Christians and Muslims in Ambon and quickly spread to other islands in Maluku and North Maluku provinces, known as the Moluccas or Spice Islands during Dutch colonial rule.

Although Indonesia is nearly 90% Islamic, Christians slightly outnumber Muslims on Ambon. Relations had been good for centuries, until an influx of Muslims in recent years.

In other violence, seven separatists were shot dead and scores wounded by soldiers in three different shootouts in Indonesia's westernmost Aceh province.

A police spokesman said the firefights followed rebel attacks on police stations across the region, an oil-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra.

Indonesia's powerful military, the only institution capable of maintaining order around the country, has come under increasing public attack both for its failure to quell the violence and for alleged rights abuses.

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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Wahid warns military against coup
15 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
US warns Indonesian generals
12 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Hundreds flee Moluccas violence
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

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