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Wednesday, May 20, 1998 Published at 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK


Death toll reaches 200

The trouble in Jakarta is aimed at a president who has ruled for over 30 years

The death toll in Indonesia has reached more than 200 after the last four days of riots, looting and protests.


BBC News' Matt Frei: 'Anarchy now runs supreme in the Indonesian capital'
The charred corpses of more than 100 people were discovered on Friday, killed when a shopping mall was set on fire in the capital city, Jakarta.

Witnesses said most of the victims were looters who broke into the mall, and were trapped inside when other rioters set it alight.


The BBC's Matt Frei in Jakarta: "complete and rampant anarchy" (1' 59")
Dozens of others have died in similar blazes throughout the city, in the worst period of civil unrest to hit the country in more than 30 years.

The violence has been triggered by economic and political unrest. But what began as student demonstrations calling for the resignation of the long-standing leader, President Suharto, has now descended into mass protests and rioting.


[ image: Riots and arson are spreading closer to the presidential palace]
Riots and arson are spreading closer to the presidential palace
Members of the ethnic Chinese minority, who dominate commerce and industry, have been targeted by rioters. Many have left the city or sought refuge in one of the city's hotels after being accused of hiking prices during the recent economic troubles.

Foreigners are also leaving the country, with many multi-national companies flying their staff and families out of the country. The US embassy has also advised its citizens to leave as soon as possible.

Reports say that some foreigners' homes have been looted, and a hotel has been set on fire.

'Total anarchy'

Although tanks and armoured vehicles are patrolling the streets, the violence is still continuing.


Real Video: Pictures of the uprising on the streets of Jakarta
Troops opened fire on a crowd gathering close to the presidential palace after President Suharto's return from an official trip to Egypt.

The armed forces chief, General Wiranto, who also serves as Defence Minister, has said he will do whatever is necessary to control the unrest - 15,000 troops are deployed in Jakarta, according to the General, but as yet a curfew has not been imposed.

The BBC correspondent in Jakarta described the situation earlier as "utter and total anarchy", with local people running riot and looters wandering freely around Jakarta, carrying goods from shops in a commercial district not far from the presidential palace.





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