At Least Nine Killed in New Violence in Maluku Islands
At least nine people have been killed by armed Muslims who attacked five Christian villages on Seram island in Indonesia's troubled Maluku islands, church sources said Saturday.
Eight people, seven men and a woman died in the first attacks on four villages in the Gorong area on the eastern extremity of the island on Friday, said Sammy Waileruni of the Christian Maranatha church in Ambon city.
Fighting, which began with a separate attack at dawn Saturday on Uraur village in the Kairatu area on the west coast of Seram, was continuing at midday, Wailureni said.
"In Kairatu, our people on the spot reported by radio that there is one dead and one injured and more than 1,000 houses burning," he said.
In the first attacks on Friday on the villages of Karlumen, Utta, Wunen and Tansoa, the Muslim fighters caught the population unaware, and most had fled their burning houses into the nearby forest, and some had fled by boat, he said.
"We don't know where the boats went, or what happened to them," Waileruni said. He added that in both Friday's and Saturday's attacks, men in army uniform were seen among the attackers.
Military officials in the area could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Maluku islands, previously known as the Spice Islands, have been torn apart by almost two years of Muslim-Christian conflict, leaving more than 4,000 people of both faiths dead and a trail of destruction.
In June, Jakarta imposed a state of civil emergency in the Malukus and the North Malukus, which allowed the governor to declare certain areas closed or under isolation, but it has so far failed to rein in the violence.
The violence has created more than half a million refugees, many of whom have fled to other islands and provinces – JAKARTA (AFP)
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