Indonesia: August 10, 2000


Indonesia has sent two infantry battalions to the islands of Maluku and North Maluku, which are part of the Spice Islands province. The area is almost evenly divided between Christians and Moslems, and violence has been raging for months as both factions have armed militias. During the Suharto regime, the iron fist of the military kept violence down. But there have been 4,000 deaths since early 1999, and several hundred people were killed in June. The upsurge in the last few months has been due to the arrival of two thousand armed members of the Laskar Jihad, a radical Moslem force determined to kill every Christian in the Spice Islands. The Indonesian military has demanded that the government declare martial law to provide them a legal means to operate in the province.--Stephen V Cole


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