Thu, 27 May 2004

Laskar Jihad leader meets home minister

JAKARTA: Home minister Hari Sabarno received on Wednesday Ambon Mayor Yopie Papilaya and the former leader of disbanded hard-line Muslim group Laskar Jihad, Ja'far Umar Thalib, following renewed violence in Ambon, Maluku. Details of the meeting at the ministry was not released.

Last month, Ambon again flared up, resulting in the deaths of 41 people and hundreds of others were injured. The violence erupted after a celebration to mark the 54th anniversary of the self-proclaimed South Maluku Republic turned ugly and sparked a riot.

The Laskar Jihad was blamed for the 1999-2001 bloody sectarian fighting in Maluku, as the group had deployed hundreds of members from its Java headquarters. -- JP