Mon, 09 Oct 2000

Violence continues in Maluku province

AMBON, Maluku (JP): Sporadic attacks occurred at several locations across Saparua and Ambon islands in Maluku province over the weekend, leaving one dead.

Secretary of the Klasis Maluku Protestant Church, P.G. Manopo said here on Sunday afternoon that the first of the clashes occurred on Saturday morning in Ulath village, Saparua Island, where armed gangs reportedly attacked using bombs and mortars.

The first attack was stopped by security personnel. However, an attack was launched later in the afternoon against Sirisori village. No security personnel were on hand to deter this attack which reportedly destroyed 15 houses and left one dead.

The latest attacks continue the spate of offenses launched against several villages in the area since September.

The attacks have usually targeted villages which are religiously homogeneous.

Saparua island is located about 100 kilometers east of Ambon.

On Sunday morning, Manopo added, another clash broke out in the same area.

Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Firman Gani confirmed on Saturday evening the attack that occurred on Saparua island.

He said he would suggest to Governor Saleh Latuconsina and Military commander Brig. Gen. I Made Yasa the establishment of a joint police and military unit in all riot-prone villages on Saparua island to improve security.

Separately, on Sunday evening in Ambon, violence broke out in the Mardika, Urimessing, Waititar, Batugantung, and Karangpanjang areas. No casualties were reported in the brief conflicts.

Meanwhile in Ternate, visiting House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung suggested that the state of civil emergency that had been imposed on North Maluku since June be revoked.

Akbar said during a visit to the province on Sunday that conditions had improved and there was no longer any need for the area to be designated with such an emergency classification, adding that he would discuss the matter with President Abdurrahman Wahid once he returns to Jakarta.

"Community and religious leaders, political parties, the youth, have all succeeded in creating a conducive climate," he said as quoted by Antara.(49/lup)