TITLE=INDONESIA / AMBON (S&L)
INTRO: Indonesian security forces are seizing weapons in a
security sweep in the troubled Molucca Islands. Sectarian
violence killed an estimated 15-hundred people in 1999 and
shows no sign of abating in the new year. VOA
correspondent Gary Thomas reports from our Southeast Asia
bureau in Bangkok.
TEXT: Police and troops are going house-to-house in the
Molucca Islands to seize weapons and arrest their owners.
The weapons seized in Ambon, the provincial capital, range
from standard military rifles and handguns to homemade
bombs. An undisclosed number of people, including a
policeman, have been arrested.
The crackdown comes after the bloodiest spasm of violence
so far. At least 300 people -- and perhaps many more --
were killed in clashes last week between Christians and
Muslims in the Moluccas, also known as the Spice Islands.
Thousands of other people have fled their homes in terror.
The Indonesian military moved in December 29th to take
direct control of security from local police.
The military says its sweep will focus first on Ambon,
scene of some of the worst violence, before moving on to
// rest opt for long //
The clashes began after the authoritarian rule of President
Suharto ended in 1998 and the subsequent election last year
of a democratic government. The end of a strong central
government in Jakarta and a referendum on independence in
East Timor has also breathed new life into political
separatist movements in Aceh and Irian Jaya.
Several countries, including Malaysia and the Netherlands -
Indonesia's former colonial ruler - have offered assistance
to help calm the unrest in the Moluccas, Irian Jaya, and
However, Indonesia's powerful Minister for Security
Affairs, General Wiranto, has rejected offers of any
outside help. Officials have also said they do not want
any United Nations peacekeeping troops in Ambon.
03-Jan-2000 06:00 AM EDT (03-Jan-2000 1100 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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