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Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Intervention warning in Moluccas
Indonesian troops
Indonesian troops have failed to halt the fighting
Indonesia will face irresistible pressure to accept foreign peacekeepers in the Moluccan islands unless it does more to stop sectarian violence there, the country's police chief has warned.


We have to prove that we are capable of solving the Maluku problems immediately

General Rusdiharjo
"We have to prove that we are capable of solving the Maluku [Moluccan islands] problems immediately," General Rusdiharjo told reporters in Jakarta.

"Otherwise [foreign intervention] will be hard to resist."

There has been mounting international concern at the Indonesian authorities' inability to halt the sectarian violence in the islands, which has left more than 3,000 dead in the past 18 months.

Map
Video footage released earlier this week showed Indonesian soldiers apparently fighting alongside Muslim militants in the islands.

Asked when foreign intervention might become necessary, General Rusdiharjo said the government would have to "work hard to convince the international community that we can settle the problem".

Sensitive issue

It is the first time a senior government official has admitted that the intervention of foreign peacekeepers in the Moluccas was a possibility.

Soldier
Video footage has shown soldiers providing support for Muslim militia
Calls have been growing among members of the Muslim and Christian communities across Indonesia for some sort of international operation to halt the violence.

However, correspondents say the Indonesian government has been opposed to such a move, in part because of the recent humiliation surrounding the East Timor referendum last year.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab is expected to go to the United Nations early next month to defend Jakarta's policy in the islands.

Sunset
The Moluccas has been devastated by 18 months of sectarian violence
Earlier Mr Shihab reiterated the government's anti-intervention stance saying Indonesia would "never" tolerate foreign forces in the islands.

On Tuesday the armed forces admitted that some of its troops had taken sides in the fighting, saying they had become emotionally involved in a religious war.

"There are members of Indonesia's military who act emotionally, either because of their family names or where they come from," armed forces spokesman Rear Air Marshall Graito Usodo said.

"This is inevitable and we admit the existence of these cases."

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See also:

20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Massacre in the Moluccas
18 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Christian militia: We'll fight on
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