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Richard Galpin reports for BBC News
"Hundreds of police and soldiers have been drafted in"
 real 28k

British Council representative, Alex Jones
"Christians are in abject terror"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 03:55 GMT
Gangs roam Indonesian resort

Riot police arrest looters who were ransacking a Christian home in Mataram Riot police arrest Muslim looters in Mataram


Tension remains high on the Indonesian island of Lombok, where Muslims have been attacking churches and shops owned by Christians.

Fragile Archipelago
There are reports of gangs of Muslims roaming the streets in search of Christian homes.

The authorities are sending police and military reinforcements to the island to restore order.

A representative of the British Council in Lombok, Alex Jones, told the BBC he had heard that more buildings, including private houses, had been set on fire during the night and some looting had been going on.

He said he had not been outside his house since Monday morning, when the trouble started in an apparent reaction to sectarian violence in the Moluccan islands.


Immanuel Church in Mataram Many churches have been attacked

Hundreds of Christians - many of them ethnic Chinese - have taken refuge in police stations. Others have fled to the neighbouring island of Bali.

Australia has evacuated 50 of its citizens. The evacuees - both tourists and Lombok residents - were taken to Bali.

Other foreigners have also been leaving. A spokesman for the Holiday Inn at Lombok's Senggigi beach said it had started evacuating all guests by ferry to neighbouring Bali.

Dozens of police have been stationed outside hotels in the area.

Reports said violence was also continuing in Ampenan, not far from the island's airport, and that buildings were still burning in the main town, Mataram.

The sectarian clashes which broke out on Monday, leaving one person dead, have prompted fears that religious violence may be spreading throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

The rioting started after a rally to protest against continuing violence between Muslims and Christians in the eastern Moluccan, or Spice, islands in which more than 500 people have died this year.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta says the Indonesian Government is coming under increasing pressure to take action to quell the mounting unrest.

The official Antara news agency said more than 1,000 non-Muslims on Lombok had taken refuge with police or fled to Bali.

'Full alert'

Police in Mataram said security forces had fired warning shots to prevent Muslim rioters from reaching a police station where Christians were sheltering.

"We've gone to full alert as the situation is getting really tense," one officer said.

Police have confirmed that one person died in hospital after being hit by a rubber bullet in Monday's rampage. A total of 52 people were arrested.


Moluccan refugees People are fleeing violence in the Moluccas

Rioters wielding machetes and Molotov cocktails destroyed 11 churches and other property owned by Christians as they roamed the town. Signs saying: "Death to Christians" and "Muslim Revolution" have been painted on buildings.

Lombok is 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Bali, Indonesia's main tourist destination. The unrest is likely to further damage the country's once-lucrative tourism industry.

With 210 million people, Indonesia is the world's most populous Islamic nation. Muslims account for 90% of the population, and Christians are a small minority.

Mainly-Muslim Lombok also has large Hindu and Christian populations.

The bloodshed in the Moluccas at the other end of the archipelago has sparked a string of protests by Muslims throughout the country, with many calling for a Jihad, or holy war, against Christians.

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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Riots hit Indonesian resort
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: What provoked Moluccas violence?
07 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Troubled history of the Moluccas
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
10 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Tough times for Indonesia's military

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