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Wednesday, May 13, 1998 Published at 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK

Riots force Indonesian leader home early
image: [ The riot police have been heavily outnumbered by students ]
The riot police have been heavily outnumbered by students

President Suharto is cutting short his state visit to Egypt to return to Indonesia because of the worsening political crisis at home.

He is to leave on Thursday, a day early, after a scheduled meeting with President Mubarak.

Real Video: BBC Correspondent David Willis: 'It's degenerating into mob violence here'
Riots spread across the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, a day after police shot dead six students during protests to demand political reform.

What was intended to be a day of mourning for the students who died yesterday turned into what correspondents say was one of the worst episodes of violence in Jakarta in decades.

Demonstrators embarked on an orgy of destruction, burning barricades and smashing and looting shops and banks.

As often during the wave of rioting which followed sharp price rises on May 4, properties of ethnic Chinese were a particular target.

There were unconfirmed reports that nine people, believed to be ethnic Chinese, burned to death.

[ image: Students smashed and felled lamp-posts]
Students smashed and felled lamp-posts
The response from the security forces was volleys of gunfire and tear gas.

Riot police marched down the centre of the city's business district, firing randomly into the air and forcing commuters to flee. The trouble died down at dusk, though several districts remain sealed off.

One man died during clashes between thousands of demonstrators and riot police outside the Trisakti university, where students had gathered to mourn their dead colleagues.

Opposition figures who joined the mourners echoed the students' call for him to stand down and condemned the killings on Tuesday.

[ image: Trouble began when students threw stones]
Trouble began when students threw stones
Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's founding president Sukarno, said: "We are a people who love peace. But what we want most is our right to freedom."

International human rights groups and the US government have sharply criticised the shootings. The Indonesian authorities say they are launching an investigation.

Vice-President Jusuf Habibie offered his condolences to the families of the victims of what he called a "tragic incident"

Thousands of students also clashed with police on Thursday in the city of Yogyakarta.

The BBC correspondent in Jakarta says President Suharto has lost both the political and economic stability that have sustained him in power for more than three decades.

In this section

Suharto's day of reckoning

Foreign exodus under way

Riots too hot for business

Chinese flee Jakarta

Death toll reaches 200

Suharto - what next?

Chronology of people's revolt