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At least 13 people held after days of brawls at Jakarta market

Agence France Presse - November 23, 1997

Jakarta – Police in the Indonesian capital have arrested at least 13 people after two days of fighting between a local mafia and residents at a Jakarta market that left two dead, reports said Sunday.

The 13 people were arrested in two waves, late Thursday and late Friday, Jakarta Police Chief Hamami Nata told the Antara news agency.

On Thursday residents around the Tanah Abang central market attacked several members of the local mafia which is mainly consisted of migrants from East Timor, leaving two people dead.

Despite police mediation and an agreement between the two sides to stop fighting on Friday morning, trouble erupted again later in the evening and went on until the early hours of Saturday, the Kompas daily said.

Thousands of residents armed with machetes, swords and steel pipes attacked an area near a railway track in Tanah Abang where the local mafia usually operates, leaving another person dead.

The fighting was halted after 300 policemen intervened and fired warning shots in the air.

"We will assure security in the location around the Tanah Abang rail trace and rid the area from thugs," Nata told Antara.

The initial cause of the violence is being investigated, he added.

The two dead have not been identified and their bodies have been sent to the morgue of the Ciptomangunkusumo state hospital.

Residents have complained of low-class prostitution at the railtrack area organized and protected by the mafia and of extortion of small vendors and businesses in the Tanah Abang area, press reports have said.

The Tanah Abang area near the central market and the railtrack remained heavily guarded Saturday, the Kompas daily said.

The area has this year already seen several incidents of mass violence, involving rival mafia groups and between residents and members of the mafia.