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Govt replaces Maluku police chief after bloody Muslim-Christian battles AMBON - The police chief of Indonesia's Maluku province has been replaced following week-long Muslim-Christian battles in which 38 people were killed and hundreds of buildings were torched. Brigadier General Bambang Sutrisno has been shifted to a new assignment at police headquarters in Jakarta, national police spokesman Paiman announced on local radio. He did not link the transfer directly to the violence.
But police in the provincial capital Ambon were widely blamed for bungled handling of an April 25 parade by Christian separatists. Clashes with Muslims broke out after separatists paraded to and from the police station following the arrest of Moses Tuwanakotta, secretary general of the pro-independence Maluku Sovereignty Front. Muslims saw the parade as provocative even though separatist supporters are only a small percentage of the Christian population, and believed that police on the ground were protecting Front members.
Police said separately that Front leaders would face trial in Jakarta for subversion-related offences. Police have arrested 35 suspected members. "We are still trying to determine who are the top leaders and who are mere followers. The top leaders will be tried in Jakarta while the rest will face justice here," said Maluku police spokesman Hendro Prasetyo. The wife and daughter of exiled separatist leader Alexander Manuputty are among the suspects. Manuputty fled to the United States last year pending an appeal against a four-year jail term passed in January for subversion.
Maluku governor Karel Albert Ralahalu said Monday that 38 people were killed and 230 injured in the bloodshed. Hundreds of homes and other buildings were torched and more than 9,000 Muslims and Christians fled their homes, according to officials. The violence was the worst since a pact in February 2002 ended three years of sectarian fighting in which some 5,000 people died. The city was quiet Tuesday. "For a second time in a row, we have had a relatively quiet night, with only one or two blasts heard," said provincial spokeswoman Lis Ulahayanan.
On Monday Indonesia's police chief Da'i Bachtiar, accompanied by a Christian and a Muslim national leader, met civic and religious leaders in Ambon to try to calm tensions. But a Muslim youth leader and a Christian legislator each vocally protested against being unable to talk to Bachtiar. Abdulrahman Divinubun, the Muslim youth leader, also shouted that "RMS (separatists) should not be the (government's) adopted child in Ambon."


Link to related event Related event:
Violence in Maluku


Posted in Maluku conflict @ 04 May 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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