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Troops to stay as peace deal sought

Kabar dari PIJAR - February 1997

Jakarta – Indonesian armed forces will not pull out from the riot-stricken province of West Kalimantan on Borneo island, according to a report on Sunday.

Ethnic groups at the centre of weeks of clashes were trying to hammer out a peace agreement as residents in the provincial capital of Pontianak said calm had returned to the town.

Regional military commander Major General Namuri Anum said he had no intention of withdrawing the 3,000 armed forces deployed to the province to deal with ethnic unrest.

''Even though the overall situation in many regencies is under control, we still hope that ethnic riots could be immediately settled,'' Maj-Gen Anum said.

Two months of violent clashes between ethnic groups have left hundreds dead and caused thousands to flee their villages in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan.

Members of the ethnic Dayak and Madurese communities are drafting a peace agreement to end the conflict but it remains unclear whether a settlement would be reached.

But observers believe a peace accord will not relieve deep-seated tension between the two ethnic groups which have had at least eight major disputes over the last 20 years.

Security forces have arrested 68 people following the violent clashes in the past two months between the indigenous Dayaks and migrants from Madura, an island off East Java.

The Indonesian military in East Timor has denied reports that six people were killed during brawls between young Catholics and members of a military-backed group early this month.

It also denied reports that several Catholic priests had been beaten.

Church sources have said fights broke out after members of the military-backed Gada Paksi youth organisation attacked 10 Catholic youths, a priest and his driver on 7 February in Viqueque, about 100 kilometres east of Dili. - Agencies