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One missing, 10 injured after police break up pre-election fights

May 19, 1997

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up street fights between supporters of rival political parties, leaving 10 people injured and one man missing, news reports said Sunday.

Hundreds of police confronted about 2,000 stone-throwing members of the United Development Party, who staged an illegal street march through central Jakarta and then fought with members of the ruling Golkar Party on Saturday night.

The violence was the latest in a series of clashes ahead of a May 29 parliamentary election.

The melee broke out at the end of a big Development Party rally, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported. It said two party supporters were arrested.

Police were reported among the injured.

Sofyan Achmad, a spokesman for the Development Party, said the missing man, identified only as Sahbandi, had not been seen since the march turned violent.

About 100 Golkar supporters also allegedly attacked a mosque Sunday, in an apparent attempt to provoke pro-Development Party residents in the town of Sleman, about 250 miles east of Jakarta.

Witnesses said about 200 police officers dispersed the group before outraged residents could retaliate.

Fighting among rival activists has been reported rising in recent days, as Indonesia’s three officially recognized political parties enter the final week of campaigning.

Electioneering ends Friday, when a five-day cooling off period begins ahead of the voting.

The May 29 election is for 425 seats in the 500-member parliament, which will help choose Indonesia’s president next year. The other 75 seats are allocated to the military.

President Suharto, 75, is expected to stand for a seventh consecutive five-year term.

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