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Monday, 17 July, 2000, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Army accused over Moluccas conflict
soldier fighting with militants
TV footage shows soldiers fighting alongside militants
New evidence that the Indonesian security forces are providing support for militant groups has emerged in television footage from the Moluccan islands.

The pictures appear to show soldiers in uniform fighting alongside Muslim militants on the island of Ambon, during an upsurge in violence between Christians and Muslims over the weekend.

If we cannot manage any more, we may cry for support from abroad in logistics and equipment ... not more than that

President Abdurrahman Wahid
The fighting has left at least 20 people dead on Ambon in the past two days, despite the imposition of a state of emergency.

On Monday, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said he would consider requesting international assistance if the violence in the Moluccas continued, but stressed it would be logistical rather than military help.

"If we cannot manage any more, we may cry for support from abroad in logistics and equipment ... not more than that," the president said.

Automatic weapons

Gunman, Moluccas
Violence has raged for 18 months
BBC Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin says the newly released TV footage provides incontrovertible evidence that elements within the security forces are providing support for the militants - something that has long been suspected.

The Muslim militants, known as the Laskar Jihad, are also seen for the first time to be using automatic weapons, apparently supplied by the army.

Some carried the Indonesian-made SS-1, a version of a Belgian-made automatic rifle which is only available to the army.

Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono on Saturday accused rogue army officers of provoking the clashes.

He said the officers concerned were an "uncontrollable factor" in the violence, but said he was powerless to force their sacking.

Senior government officials have blamed the violence on supporters of former President Suharto, who are seeking to destabilise President Abdurrahman Wahid's government.

Another possibility is that members of the security forces are becoming polarised along the lines of their own religious affiliation.

Death toll

Hospital officials said that seven Christians and 13 Muslims died in the weekend's fighting.

Laskar Jihad fighters
Laskar Jihad fighters have been linked to Suharto
Among the dead were a pregnant mother and her daughter, killed when a mortar round was fired into their home.

Shops and homes were burned and looted.

At least 3,000 people have been killed and 500,000 left homeless since sectarian violence broke out 18 months ago between the islands' Muslim and Christian communities.

Many of the militants - 10,000 according to some accounts - have arrived from other islands in recent months, and say their only aim is to defend the Muslim community on Ambon.

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20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Massacre in the Moluccas
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