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Sampit tense again after guns go missing SAMPIT - Tension rose in the riot-torn town of Sampit again on Tuesday following the disappearance of six guns and 80 sets of military uniforms despite the security forces effort to restore order in the area, an official said. The official, who requested anonymity, said that the guns and uniforms had probably been stolen by locals.
"But we think the incident is a little odd since most locals or Madurese migrants, who have yet to leave Sampit, are spending most of their energy looking for food supplies. Why on earth would they take military uniforms? We are worried that whoever lies behind the stealing is planning to generate more chaos in the area," he said. The Jakarta Post was unable to reach local security officers for confirmation. But the reports on the missing weaponry and uniforms were also launched by SCTV private television station on Tuesday evening.
The river town of Sampit remained subdued on Tuesday as residents feared proceeding as normal with daily activities outside their dwellings. To further consolidate this atmosphere, sounds of gunfire were still a regular occurrence, and secondary sources claim that these originated from gunfights between military and police troops, an official said. All activities remained more or less paralyzed in western and northern parts of Sampit, including the district of Parenggean, 170 kilometers north of Sampit, and Cempaga district, some 70 kilometers north of the river town.
The local administration's calls for schools to resume after the Idul Adha Islamic Day of Sacrifice holiday were also unheeded. Most schools were still closed. East Kotawaringin regent Wahyudi K. Anwar said the situation was quite understandable. "Parents are afraid of letting their children go to school. Besides, most of the teachers and the pupils have either already left town or are staying at refugee shelters," he said by phone from Sampit.
The regent further added that since the protracted 20-day riots the regency's earnings had dropped sharply from some Rp 35 billion per day to only around Rp 17.5 billion per day. More than 400 Madurese have been killed during the mayhem, which erupted on Feb. 18. The remainder of these Madurese migrants have been forced to flee their homes for safety. The latest data from the local administration states that some 40,000 refugees have left Sampit, heading for cities in East Java while around 20,000 others are living in refugee camps.
Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono underlined on Tuesday that President Abdurrahman Wahid's plan to visit Sampit would be necessary for reasons of reconciliation. "A visit by the head of government will be useful to encourage social integration and society building," Susilo told a media conference after a meeting with Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri at her office.
Abdurrahman, who is scheduled to arrive home early on Wednesday morning, will leave for Sampit a few hours later (today) and will spend the night in Palangkaraya. "The President will talk with local authorities and local traditional and religious figures in Sampit. He also wants to hear and see the handling of the refugees in the area," Susilo said.


The mayhem in Sampit has apparently affected haj pilgrims from Central Kalimantan. Religious Affairs minister Tolchah Hasan, in his capacity as the leader of Indonesian haj pilgrims, has instructed the ministry's secretary general to have the haj pilgrims from Central Kalimantan, especially those from Sampit, temporarily accommodated in Surakarta and Semarang as soon as they arrive back in Indonesia next week.
"Those who cannot make it home in Central Kalimantan for security reasons will stay at haj dormitories in Surakarta and Semarang at the expense of the Ministry of Religious Affairs," Tolchah said. Central Kalimantan sent a total of 2,607 pilgrims, 1,298 of whom embarked from Surakarta, the rest from Semarang. In Surabaya, deputy governor Imam Supardi said that the East Java administration guaranteed the safety of its people, regardless of their race and religion.
"The administration is responsible for its residents' safety. There is no reason for them to worry about their safety," he said referring to rumors that Madurese people may take revenge on Kalimantan migrants in Surabaya. "National Police chief (Gen. Surojo Bimantoro) has also guaranteed this. We can count on his word," said Supardi. He said that there were around 44,000 refugees from Sampit held at temporary camps in several towns across East Java.
According to Supardi, President Abdurrahman and the National Social Welfare Agency (BKSN) had donated Rp 200,000 each for the refugees, while vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri donated 20,000 boxes of bread and crackers and mineral water. "We received all the donations last week, and we have distributed them to the refugees." He added that 12 doctors had been sent to refugee camps in Bangkalan and Sampang on Madura Island. Pharmaceutical industries have also taken part in handling the refugees, he said.

Posted in Violence @ 07 March 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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