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BBC News Front Page | World | Asia Pacific | In depth 
Ambon and the Moluccas
The Moluccas, also known as "the Spice Islands", were once fought over by the Dutch, English and Portuguese seeking to gain access to their rare and valuable spices.

Since January 1999 Ambon, the provincial capital of the Moluccas, has been the scene of violent clashes between Muslims and Christians. Thousands of people have been killed in the violence.

Tensions in the province have recently been further fuelled by the arrival of hardline Muslims who have declared what they call a "holy war" against Christians.

Once in the majority, Christians are now in the minority as a result of Muslim immigration from other parts of the archipelago. The newcomers have come to dominate local commerce and have made inroads into the police and civil service after the appointment of a Muslim Ambonese as governor in the mid-1990s. Tens of thousands of people have fled the violence. In June, the government declared a civil emergency amid reports that the army were fighting alongside the warring communities.