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Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 10:21 UK

Indonesia protests follow clashes over Muslim tomb

Protesters in Jakarta on 15 April 2010
The protesters blame security forces for the clash in Jakarta

Protesters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, have demanded that the city's public security force be disbanded.

The call came a day after clashes over a Muslim tomb left three people dead and more than 100 wounded.

It was some of the worst violence in Jakarta in years. Indonesian officials and Muslim community leaders are to meet to try to calm tensions.

The fighting broke out after protesters thought officials were trying to remove the tomb of a revered Islamic scholar.

Officials say they were trying only to gain access to a building nearby.

Distrust

The BBC's Indonesia correspondent, Karishma Vaswani, says that hundreds of demonstrators have gathered again in the centre of the city.

Some chanted "God is Great" and threw rocks at a billboard bearing the photo of Jakarta's governor, Fauzi Bowo.

"I hope that people can reflect and take lessons from this bad incident," he said, ignoring calls for him to stand down.

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi also rejected calls to disband the city security force - an unarmed, poorly-paid and poorly-trained group distinct from the police which has been accused of abuses in the past.

The fighting on Wednesday night occurred when, despite assurances from officials that they had no plan to remove the grave, demonstrators refused to believe them.

More than 2,000 members of the city security force, armed with teargas and batons, fought back protesters, who were armed with machetes and sticks.

Indonesian officials are expected to hold talks with Muslim community leaders to try and resolve the situation.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appeared on national television on Wednesday night and appealed for calm in the capital.

"The incident should and could have been avoided and a decision could have been made to stop the operations once the conditions in the field became apparent.

"Although the operations were legally justified they should not have been forcefully carried out," he added.

The cemetery is thought to be the resting place of a respected Islamic scholar, whom many Indonesians believe helped to spread Islam in the capital in the 18th century.

Officials say the land they want to claim back is next to the cemetery and not in the grounds itself.



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