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One Killed in Indonesian Rioting

April 4, 1999

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Fresh fighting between Christians and Muslims reportedly killed at least one person in an eastern Indonesian province where sectarian violence has left 38 dead in less than a week.

More than 200 people have died so far this year in Maluku province, most on the island of Ambon, about 1,750 miles east of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

Akar Roroa, a local Muslim leader, said by telephone Sunday that at least one Christian was killed in new fighting in Tual city on Kai Kecil island. Violence spread to Tual and the southeast part of the province on Wednesday and has left at least 38 dead.

Regent Hussein Rahayan, the top official in Tual, was unable to confirm the latest death report, saying only that the situation appeared calm but tense as some abandoned houses were burned on outlying islands.

On Saturday, Christians and Muslims armed with swords, spears and homemade bombs battled and burned places of worship in the Kei Besar district near Tual. Three people were killed and a church, a mosque and several houses were set on fire.

Most of Indonesia’s 210 million people are Muslims, but Maluku province has a large Christian population.

The military, which has struggled to contain frequent outbursts of unrest in Indonesia over the past year, sent 1,000 troops to Tual on Saturday from their base in Ambon, the capital of the province, an area once known as the Spice Islands under Dutch colonial rule.

Religious and ethnic tensions, economic hardship and disputes over the course of Indonesia’s transition to democracy have fueled violence since the downfall last May of authoritarian President Suharto.

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