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Mobs Kill Two in Borneo Violence

October 27, 2000

PONTIANAK, Indonesia (AP) _ Bloody ethnic fighting raged in a remote Borneo town Friday when mobs decapitated two people and carried their severed heads on sticks through the streets, witnesses and police said.

It was the third straight day of bloodshed in West Kalimantan province that has left seven people dead, despite police efforts to clamp down on the clashes between ethnic Malay gangs and Madurese settlers.

Police and soldiers were outnumbered by Malays armed with machetes, daggers and homemade rifles in Pontianak, the regional capital, about 420 miles north of Jakarta. The gangs hacked two Madurese to death.

Indigenous Malays resent the settlers for the loss of traditional land. The settlers are given money by the state to set up farms and homes in the area.

The army deployed two armored vehicles in the town’s central market, the scene of some of the most bloody clashes. Shops, buses and property belonging to settlers were also torched in the violence, which began Wednesday.

Commercial activities in the town were mostly at a standstill. Thousands of terrified Madurese were still sheltering Friday in police stations and a sports stadium.

Police said the violence was triggered by a traffic accident involving individuals from rival ethnic groups.

Police Supt. Irwan said a limited shoot-to-kill policy had been introduced to stop the bloodshed. Gangs still roamed the town despite a nighttime curfew.

Elite police reinforcements were expected to arrive later Friday, increasing the number of officers in the area to 1,500, police said.

Gruesome clashes involving Malays and other indigenous groups against settlers have flared periodically in the region. At least 260 people, mostly Madurese, were killed in 1999. Dozens also died in attacks in 1997.

Many of the settlers fled to Pontianak and have been living in makeshift camps in and around the city.

Most of the Madurese left their overcrowded island, about 434 miles east of Jakarta, in the past two decades and settled in relatively underdeveloped Borneo under a government plan.

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