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Ethnic riots hit West Kalimantan

Indonesian Observer - January 22, 1999

Jakarta – Sporadic clashes between two ethnic groups have flared up in West Kalimantan, claiming four lives and injuring one man seriously. The clashes took place in Parit Setia village, Jawai subdistrict, 200 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Pontianak, Antara reported yesterday.

The unrest between Madurese transmigrants and Malay ethnic groups, began on Monday when Parit Setia villagers caught a resident of Rambaian village, Tebas subdistrict, attempting to steal something, provincial police spokesman, Captain Suhadi, told Antara. "The thief was caught red-handed even before he stole [the item] and people suddenly began to beat him," Suhadi said.

Local sources said that two days later on Wednesday, some 200 people from Rambaian village descended on Jawai subdistrict and attacked people as they were celebrating the second day of Idul Fitri.

Those who died in the incident were identified as Wasli (40), Mahli (50), Ayub (50) and Pani Bujang (50), all from Parit Setia village, Suhadi said, adding it's not clear if there were any casualties from Rambaian village.

Suhadi claimed the situation was under control despite strong tension in the air and locals worrying about another round of clashes. He said the violence was different from the 1997 clashes between native Dayaks and Madurese (from East Java) in Sanggau Ledo village, which broke out during a music concert and sparked mass killings. On that occasion, locals said the military slaughtered hundreds of civilians to quell the unrest. But the Armed Forces always strongly denied any wrongdoing.

In the latest bout of violence, several attackers have already been detained by police and more are likely to be arrested, said Suhadi, adding that a number of security officers have been deployed in the area to "maintain peace".

Six injured, houses torched in brawl

At least six people were seriously injured, nine houses were burned, and another 18 were badly damaged after a brawl between residents of two villages in North Sulawesi, a report said yesterday.

The clash involved inhabitants of Tabang village and Poyawow Besar village, in Bolaang Mongondow (Bolmong), southwest of the provincial capital of Manado. "The incident has caused total losses of hundreds of millions [of rupiah]," Bolmong administration official F.F. Lendo was quoted as saying by Antara. All of the six people injured in Tuesday's clash are now being treated at Taole Binangkang Kotamobago Hospital.

The burned and damaged houses are all located in Tabang village. The motive behind the brawl was still unclear to Antara yesterday, but some people have been arrested for questioning. Lendo denied the brawl was sparked by ethnic or religious tension.