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Two Injured in Aceh Fighting

June 4, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Two days after a cease-fire between separatist rebels and Indonesian government forces in Aceh province took effect, two people were shot and injured, police said Sunday.

Lt. Col. Sayed Husaini, a local police chief, said two civilians were riding a motorbike through the region’s capital, Banda Aceh, late Saturday night when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them.

He said police were investigating the shooting.

A cease-fire came into effect Friday throughout Aceh, 1,100 miles northwest of Jakarta, after more than 25 years of violence.

Indonesia’s President Abdurrahman Wahid has pledged to end years of human rights abuses by the Indonesian military in Aceh and to deliver greater political and economic autonomy to its 4.3 million people.

However, he has repeatedly rejected the demands of the staunchly-Muslim rebel group, the Free Aceh Movement, for independence. More than 5,000 people have died in the past decade, 345 this year alone.

In eastern Indonesia, gunmen in a speedboat opened fire on a ferry, killing one passenger and injuring two others in the latest fighting between Muslims and Christians, news reports said Sunday. A doctor at a navy hospital in the port city of Ambon, Dr. Komang, said the shooting happened just after the ferry left the dock on Saturday, the official Antara news agency reported.

Several explosions were also heard Sunday in the city center as Muslim and Christian gangs clashed for the first time in several days.

The report said the military had deployed several armored vehicles to the area to try to stop the fighting and search for snipers.

Ambon, 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta, is the capital of Maluku province. The city, one of the few in Muslim-dominated Indonesia where Christians are the majority, was renowned for its religious tolerance before sectarian violence broke out in January 1999.

More than 2,500 people have been killed in the fighting since then.

Late last month, more than 2,000 Islamic volunteers belonging to a paramilitary group calling itself the Holy War Troops, arrived in Ambon from Java. Their leader has vowed to wage war against the Christian community.

Since then there have been a series of fatal clashes between the two sides after more than a month of relative calm.

Similar violence also has broken out in the past week on Sulawesi island, just to the west of the Malukus. More than 20 people have been killed in clashes.

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