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Riots break out in three Indonesian towns

Agence France Presse - June 16, 1998

Jakarta – Thousands of people have rioted in three towns in Indonesia, damaging shops, houses, vehicles and churches, reports said Tuesday.

In Tegal, Central Java, a mob Monday set fire to two cars, including a police car, and two motorcycles, as well as damaging scores of shops and houses, two banks, a gas station and two churches, the Kompas daily said.

The crowd was angered by the refusal of local university students to join them in a street protest demanding the resignation of the mayor, the report said.

Twenty-seven people from Tegal, 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Jakarta, and the neighbouring town of Slawi were arrested, including one man caught in possession of a petrol bomb, it said.

In Cianjur, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Jakarta, 15,000 people calling for the head of the district to resign, damaged five shops, a church and two cars on Monday before troops regained control of the situation, Kompas said.

In Tuban, East Java, 600 kilometers (372 miles) east of here, a protest involving thousands of people demanding the resignation of a local subdistrict chief, degenerated into an attack on ethnic Chinese properties. Ten houses were damaged by the stone-throwing crowd on Monday, the daily said.

Protests demanding the resignation of local officials deemed guilty of corruption, collusion and nepotism, have mounted in towns across the country since the government of veteran leader Suharto fell last month.