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Rubber bullets fired as clashes leave seventy-seven police, 60 students injured

South China Morning Post - May 4, 1998

Jakarta – Clashes between students demanding political reform and security forces in three towns at the weekend left 77 policemen and at least 60 students injured, six by rubber-coated bullets, reports said yesterday.

The bullets were fired at the Teachers' University in East Jakarta where 33 other students were also seriously injured in addition to the six, Kompas daily said.

It said 28 police were hurt during the clash, which followed an attempt by 2,000 students to march down the street to a nearby university. Jakarta police chief Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Aritonang was quoted by the Bisnis Indonesia daily as saying 20 students and 28 members of the security forces had been injured.

"All injured students have returned to their homes," Colonel Aritonang said. "They had been hit by a fence that fell down and not because of shots fired."

Another encounter at the Academy for Foreign Languages in central Jakarta left three students injured.

At Malang in East Java, students and police fought in two separate incidents and 49 policemen and 30 students were injured, the East Java-based Jawa Pos daily said. It said scuffles broke out as students of the Merdeka University and the National Technology Institute attempted to protest on the streets on Saturday.

The Jawa Pos said the injuries occurred in the clash with students of the institute in which security forces used tear-gas, water cannon and warning shots while the students threw rocks and debris.

Violence at Jember University in the town of the same name 120 kilometres east of Malang left one student hurt, the Jawa Pos said.

Other, non-violent, student demonstrations to demand political reforms also took place at campuses across Jakarta and in several other cities on the islands of Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi on Saturday.

At Medan in North Sumatra, a lawyer from the local branch of the Legal Aid Institute said Nommensen University activists torched a military police jeep. The North Sumatra military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Agus Ramadhan, denied the report. He was quoted by Antara news agency as saying students took a new car from a showroom and burnt it in front of the university campus.