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Students Clash With Troops in Indonesia

September 09, 1998| From Reuters

SURABAYA, Indonesia — Clashes broke out today between students demanding the ouster of President B.J. Habibie and troops in the city of Surabaya, witnesses said.

They said some students and political activists sustained minor injuries in the violence near the local governor's palace in this industrial city, where Habibie was staying.

Troops beat protesters with batons, and other demonstrators fell and were trampled in the melee, the witnesses said.

The students carried banners reading "The Suharto regime has not ended," "Indonesia is crying" and "Habibie equals rice at 5,000 rupiah [42 cents] per kilogram."

Rice prices have more than tripled in the past year, adding to the misery of a country that in the last few months has seen its economy slide into its deepest recession in three decades amid violent political upheaval that ended Suharto's rule in May.

Meanwhile, Habibie inaugurated a sports stadium in Surabaya as troops braced for the student protesters.

Military officials said about 1,000 troops and an equal number of police had been deployed throughout the city. Access roads to the governor's palace were blocked.

"In facing these heavy challenges, I call on all circles in society to maintain patience and clear thinking," Habibie said.

"I am fully aware this difficult situation often makes us lose patience. A few among us have been encouraged to do various actions that can make the situation more difficult."

On Monday, students demanding Habibie quit broke into the federal parliament building in Jakarta and stayed there for more than 12 hours.

They were chased out early Tuesday but have said they will return within a few days to resume the protest. Two students sustained bayonet wounds and five were overcome after inhaling tear gas in a brief clash with security forces.

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