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Four thousand killed in Kalimantan ethnic war

Radio Australia - June 9, 1997

A report in Britain's Independent newspaper claims as many as four-thousand people in Indonesia's Kalimantan province were ritually murdered in an ethnic war in January and February this year.

Philippa Adam reports from London that the death toll is sharply at odds with official Indonesian estimates.

The Independent newspapers says a savage outbreak of head-hunting and cannibalism earlier this year in the remote West Kalimantan province, left 4-thousand people dead, including women and children. Official estimates at the time put the death toll at 3-hundred. The newspaper says they've uncovered evidence of headless human remains and describe events as an ethnic war fought on ancient black magic principles. Muslim settlers from the island of Madura have repeatedly clashed over land and jobs with the local tribespeople, the Dayaks. But in January and February this year, priests in the area estimate 200 Dayaks and 4-thousand Madurese died in the fighting.