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34 Indonesians Killed in Raid on Christian Village

May 27, 2000|From Times Wire Services

JAKARTA, Indonesia — At least 34 people were killed when a band of Muslim militants launched a seaborne raid on a Christian village in the eastern Indonesian province of North Molucca, officials said Friday.

Brig. Gen. Max Tamaela, chief of the local military district, said more than 70 people were injured.

"According to latest reports, 32 people were killed Thursday and two others on Friday," Tamaela said. "The situation now is under control."

Rudy Indago, an official at a Seventh-day Adventist Church in the provincial capital, Ternate, said 26 Christians died in the violence in remote Galela district on the island of Halmahera. The official Antara news agency said eight of the attackers were among the dead.

Halmahera is the largest island in North Molucca, 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta.

Indago said the fighting began with a predawn attack on the Christian village of Mamuya by armed Muslim extremists who arrived by boat.

North Molucca and Molucca provinces, collectively once known as the Spice Islands, have been plagued by sectarian violence, which first broke out 16 months ago. More than 2,500 people have died in clashes since then.

The latest deaths bring to 62 the number of people killed this month.

President Abdurrahman Wahid's government, which has deployed a massive security force to the region, has insisted that it is up to the two communities to settle their own problems. But all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the tensions have so far failed.

Witnesses said hundreds of people had abandoned their homes and fled to neighboring Tobelo district.

During the past two months, more than 2,000 Islamic paramilitary troops have trickled into the Molucca archipelago from bases on Java, Indonesia's main island.

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