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Black magic killings still plague Java

Reuters - January 21, 1999

Surabaya – Five people accused of being black magicians were murdered over the past two weeks in Indonesia's East Java province, a cleric said on Thursday.

"It is so sad that ... the killing of alleged black magicians is not yet over ...," said Fairul Anam, who heads an investigation into the violence for Nahdlatul Ulama, a Moslem organisation.

Anam said a woman and her son, accused of being black magicians, were killed on Sunday in Jember village by assailants wearing black ninja-style clothes. Three other people were killed in separate attacks in nearby towns over the past two weeks. Police were not immediately available for comment.

An official team probing a spate of murders of Moslem clerics and alleged black magicians in December verified 182 deaths but shed no light on who was responsible. The team's report said it was fairly certain the killings, which terrorised the densely populated eastern part of the main island of Java for months, had been organised.

The victims were often chopped to pieces and tied to bundles that were dangled from trees or thrown into mosques. The military has come under heavy criticism for not stopping the killings, which peaked in September. Several people have been charged in the murders but no one has been convicted.