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Military gets shoot-on-sight orders

Agence France Presse - February 6, 1999

Jakarta – The Indonesian military has been given orders to shoot-on-sight in a bid to stamp out violence, Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto told reporters Saturday.

"An order to shoot-on-sight will be imposed for the whole of Indonesia, especially in areas prone to unrest, to protect the population from actions that destroy, that destroy national assets, or that (lead to) physical assault on others, that engage in robbery or resist law personnel," Wiranto added.

The decision came in the wake of a continued unrest, looting and mob violence in different regions of the country has left more than 100 dead, massive destruction and material losses.

"ABRI declares war on all forms of violence ... ABRI will take firm and decisive measures to protect society," Wiranto told a press conference here referring to the armed forces' popular acronym, ABRI.

He stressed the shoot-on-sight order would remain in force as long as necessary saying "violence and forms of assault have now destroyed national assets."

"This needs special theraphies, this needs specific handling," he said, adding the security forces could not longer simply rely on its local personnel, especially in isolated regions, to prevent and contain unrest.

Therefore, the military would set up a "special task force" to face "the actions of our own society which has forgotten that the law should be respected and that their actions can cause losses to the rest of society." He cited cases of violent fights between large groups of people, the torching and vandalizing of public buildings, including places of worship. He said the task force would "prevent the spread of such actions."

The task force, Wiranto said would be empowered to undertake "repressive actions", to seek out the root cause of unrest to ensure adequate punishment. He did not elaborate but said the task force would soon be operational.

The Indonesian armed forces, which includes the police, have been coming under fire for failing to prevent or to quickly contain the series of mass violence that has rocked several regions of Indonesia in the past months.

In one of the most bloody incidents in recent years, at least 95 people were killed in several days of violence clashes between Moslem and Christian communities in the eastern province of Maluku last month.

Fighting between villages and large mass groups, the looting of state and private properties by mobs and rising violent crime have also been reported across the country in the past months.