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Attack in Indonesia sparks fears AMBON - An attack killing five paramilitary policemen last week in eastern Indonesia have raised fears that Muslim-Christian violence may resume in the Moluccas Islands. Since 1999-2002, violent clashes have killed 5,000 people.

The five men dead were members of the elite Mobile Brigade, known as Brimob. They were shot as they slept in a security post at a remote Loki Village in Seram island. One assailant and a civilian were reportedly killed during the attack. “This incident is a type of terror designed to weaken the security and stability in the Moluccas,” police spokesman, Endro Prasetyo, said to Reuters.

According to Reuters, Brig. Gen. Aityawarman reported that two suspects confessed to being involved in the attack. The suspects claimed that the slain officers were protecting a Christian village nearby, Although Indonesia is 87 percent Muslim, the ratio of Christians and Muslims is evenly split in the Moluccas Islands, said Asia Times Online.

Since 2002, there has been a tense-truce in the islands, located about 1,400 miles east of Jakarta. Sporadic violence, however, continues to fuel tensions, says Reuters. Several days prior to last week's attack, Asian Times reported violence in the eastern Indonesian Islands, citing concerns that radical Islamic groups would once “again expose ethnic and religious fault lines” by using local conflicts in the Moluccas to spread radicalism throughout Indonesia's provinces.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), a Belgium-based conflict analysis group, stated recently that militants in eastern Indonesia may be using non-religious conflicts to incite so-called religious battles. On April 24, ICG reported an attack in Mamasa, Sulawesi - west of the Moluccas Islands - that killed five people and burned five houses. The victims were primarily Christian.

The ICG reported stated that "...because Mamasa is majority Christian and the villages in which opposition was initially concentrated are majority Muslim, the conflict is widely misunderstood in Indonesia as communal." "The conflict is essentially administrative, but it is widely perceived as religious", said Sidney Jones, ICG South East Asia Project Director, in a recent report. "Such perceptions increase passions and risks alike".

The group stated that none of the individuals interviewed believed that religious differences caused the reported April 24 attack. The sources claimed that the attack, instead, may have arisen from disagreements caused by an old district being split-in-two in 2002. The split apparently occured by local officials seeking personal gain.

In another ICG report issued May 3, the Indonesian government made quick arrests in connection to the Mamasa attack after recognizing the danger of polarization along religious lines.


Related blog entries (category 'Violence') Related blog entries (category 'Violence'):
22 March 2005 · 19 injured in new sectarian violence in Ambon
25 May 2004 · Bombing at Christian market in Ambon city kills one, wounds 13


Posted in Violence @ 23 May 2005 20:06 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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