Thu, 30 Aug 2001

Nine people killed in Luwu riot

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): Nine people were killed, dozens of others were injured and 40 houses were set ablaze early on Wednesday in a rampage involving residents of two hamlets near the village of Padang Sappa, Bupon district, Luwu regency, some 430 kilometers north of here.

A police officer said that one of the victims was a boy of under ten years old. "He was hacked to death," the officer at the Luwu Police precinct said.

Locals said the fatal fight between the residents of Butta Batu and Padang Subur hamlets started with a quarrel between two groups of people which led to a mass brawl.

"No one knows how the fight started or who initiated it. The two warring camps used homemade rifles and traditional weapons including machetes and swords," a local, who requested anonymity, said.

Police speculated that ethnic sentiment was behind the deadly fracas, adding that the 40 houses set ablaze were distributed among both feuding groups.

The bodies of the dead were being stored at Sawerigading hospital in Palopo while the injured, including two men with gunshot wounds to the head and body, were being treated at the same hospital.

Hundreds of people fled their homes and were now being accommodated at Luwu Police station.

Surface transportation between Makassar and Palopo was practically crippled following the incident.

Luwu Police spokesman Adj. Comr. Muh Tang said that two more police platoons from Luwu had been deployed to quell the disturbances. (27/31/sur)