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Tuesday, May 12, 1998 Published at 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK

Six killed in Jakarta protest

The security forces rushed hundreds of reinforcements to the rally

At least six students have been killed when police opened fire on one of the largest demonstrations to take place in Indonesia for many years.

Real Video: BBC Correspondent Jonathan Head: 'Police action was unnecessary and excessive'
At least 10 other students were injured at the demonstration in the capital, Jakarta, and many of the victims are now in hospital.

The students' bodies were taken to the morgue, where their friends wept and chanted prayers.

Their deaths marked the worst violence since students across Indonesia began demonstrating for political reforms three months ago.

Students offer flowers

The clashes on Tuesday began as a peaceful demonstration.Thousands of students poured into the streets, demanding political reform and the resignation of President Suharto.

According to the BBC correspondent who was at the scene, the protest caught the security forces off-guard; usually, they confine the students to the campuses..

Hundreds of troop reinforcements, backed by water cannon, were rushed in to prevent the crowd from marching to the parliament building.

[ image: The demonstration began peacefully]
The demonstration began peacefully
They were greeted by young protestors offering them flowers.

The BBC Jakarta Correspondent, Jonathan Head, said for a while it looked as if the protest might end peacefully, but in the end, the patience of the military ran out.

"Students ran for their lives as the police in riot gear opened fire to disperse them," he said.

Our correspondent said the shooting incident had apparently occurred when an undercover military official was discovered by the students, and beaten up.

"The police then fired what we believe were warning shots, and possibly rubber bullets, and began chasing them down the street, beating some of them as well," said Jonathan Head.

The demonstration involved students from a large private university, many of them middle and upper class, and some of them the sons and daughters of government officials.

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