APSN Banner

Maluku mobs break into police HQ

Straits Times - June 25, 2000

Jakarta – Mobs broke into a police headquarters and took away cash, ammunition and police uniforms, raising concerns of an escalation of violence in the week-long unrest plaguing the troubled Malukus Islands.

Maluku police chief Brigadier-General Dewa Astika said on Friday that rioters had broken into two ammunition warehouses during communal clashes and burned a housing compound occupied by about 2,000 police members and their families.

Besides guns, they also took away dozens of Police Mobile Brigade uniforms, said the police chief. "This is dangerous because rioters can now disguise themselves in police uniforms," he was quoted as saying by the Indonesian Observer.

He also warned that the stolen ammunition could be used to launch another attack. He said the police had been working closely with the Pattimura regional military command in controlling the riots and recovering the stolen ammunition.

Theu would investigate the possible involvement of police personnel in the attack. "If we find police personnel to be involved in it, we will take stern measures against them as they have betrayed the police and their duty to protect the people," Brig-Gen Astika stressed.

Fierce fighting between Muslims and Christians flared for a fourth day in the capital of the Maluku Islands yesterday, leaving at least six dead, officials said.

Hundreds of Laskar Jihad members have continued to arrive in Maluku since May, ignoring President Abdurrahman Wahid's repeated warnings about travelling to the province.

Acting Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Lieutenant-General (Ret) Surjadi Soedirdja has told the group to withdraw its volunteers because their presence was contributing to the violence there. Meanwhile, TNI spokesman Rear Marshal Graito Usodo said the military would intensify its sea and land patrols.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle proposed tougher action by asking the government to declare a state of civil emergency in Ambon. "The emergency law could be applied soon in Maluku, especially in Ambon," said Mr Heri Akhmadi, an executive of the party.

He said imposing a civil emergency status will "prevent the fall of more victims" and urged the government to prevent outsiders from entering Ambon and for all sides to engage in a ceasefire.

The party is led by Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who also called on the government to consider relocating one party in the conflict to other regions in Indonesia.

The President said on Friday he had banned outsiders from entering the Maluku Islands in an effort to quell the sectarian violence. He said he had also ordered police to help the military search for weapons in the islands.