Thu, 25 Mar 1999

Govt says Irianese students safe

UJUNGPANDANG, South Sulawesi: Governor HZB Palaguna promised on Wednesday that indigenous Irianese students studying here would be safe and played down fears that the religious conflict in Ambon would spill over into the province.

"I have ordered the police chief to anticipate infiltration by provocateurs who intend to sow hatred among different religious and ethnic groups," Palaguna said.

He was commenting on security worries recently filed by Irianese students. Many of them have returned home.

In Jayapura, Irian Jaya, a spokesman for an Irianese student group here, Johanes Kareth, had told a hearing attended by military officers, local figures and fellow students that all students would leave the capital by March 28.

"We feel unsafe and cannot focus on our studies," Johanes said, adding that two groups of Irianese students had already left Ujungpandang.

Johanes said tension here was the result of a spillover from religious clashes in neighboring Maluku.

Idris said Irian Jaya and South Sulawesi security authorities had taken measures to quell hostility between groups.

Deputy Governor Ataturi disapproved of the planned exodus, but extended a security guarantee to the students. (27/34)