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Tension eases in West Java town hit by riots

Straits Times - February 1, 1997

Jakarta – The situation in Indonesia's West Java province was less tense yesterday with shops re-opening and a cleaning up under way a day after Thursday's violent incidents caused widespread damage.

A policeman in the town of Rengasdengklok said 108 people had been questioned in connection with the unrest, sparked after an ethnic Chinese-Indonesian woman complained of the noise Mulsim youths were making as they beat drums before dawn to summon people to eat before the start of the Ramadan fast.

Residents said yesterday that troops remained deployed in the town, part of a rice-growing area about 50 km east of Jakarta.

"People are clearing the rubble from their damaged houses and shops and soldiers are patrolling in the town.

"There were no incidents overnight, but it was tense last night because we heard rumours the people would attack us again," said a church attendant. Rioters burned a church and a Buddhist temple, damaged four other churches, and wrecked and looted shops and homes during the rampage.

Sixteen cars were also destroyed, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

Co-ordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs Soesilo Soedarman called on Indonesians to act to prevent violence that threatened national unity, the Pikiran Rakyat daily said yesterday.

He made the remarks after a meeting of the military, the Attorney-General's office and government departments dealing with political and security matters.

However, he said the government was "not worried" about the country's socio-political condition and security in the run up to the general election scheduled for May 29, adding that political stability and security were "under control" but that "we need to enhance our alertness".

"But if there are individuals in the society who do not want the general elections to proceed smoothly, the possibility that other incidents could take place cannot be ruled out," he warned. – DPA, AFP, Reuter.