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Five injured in fresh clashes on Ambon island

AMBON, Maluku (JP): A fresh community clash broke out in Ambon Island on Monday morning when residents from Tial and Tulehu villages attacked nearbySuli village, injuring at least five residents and destroying dozens of houses, an official said.

Spokesman of the civil emergency post in Ambon Maj. M. Djari said at least 40 houses in Suli village in Salahutu district, Central Maluku have been razed and five Suli residents injured as a result of the clash.

Djari said the victims were rushed to the Indonesian Navy hospital in Ambon for immediate treatment.  The predominantly Christian Suli village was attacked by Tulehu residentsfrom the hills and neighboring Tial residents who initiated the clash by shooting and firing mortars.

The attack forced dozens of Suli residents to take refuge in nearby Passovillage. Suli residents questioned the Pattimura military personnel for their failure to take quick action to stop the rampage as the Tulehu village is located near the Pattimura Military Headquarters.

Separately, Governor Saleh Latuconsina, who had confirmed the attack on Monday, ordered the deployment of two companies of joint military-police troops to the bordering area.

The governor also urged security personnel to take stern action against those who were responsible or involved in the attack.

So far, there has been no official explanation of the motive for the attack but there was a possibility that the clash was triggered by recent community clashes in neighboring Saparua Island, also in Central Maluku.  The clash in Saparua Island that erupted on Wednesday has claimed at least 13 lives and injured 27 others.

Meanwhile in Saparua Island, the joint police-military troops, conducted on Monday, a sweeping operation in the villages which were involved in the recent community clashes. The objective of the operation was to strip all residents of illegal firearms and weapons.

Later in the afternoon, hundreds of Christian residents staged a peacefulrally at the governor's office on Jl. Pattimura, protesting the failure of the leaders of the civil emergency administration in Maluku province in restoring security and order.

The protesters were received by Latuconsina and Maluku Provincial Legislative Council Speaker Etty Sahuburua. Both leaders vowed to convey the protesters' aspirations to the central government.  While pointing at the leaders' failure, the protesters also stressed the importance of the United Nations' intervention in ending the violence.

The protesters' spokesman Jimmy Mailoa from the All-Maluku Protestant Churches declared a week of mourning starting from Sept. 26 for Christians,telling them to stay at home, fast and pray.  Christian residents were told to wear black clothes or ribbons if they had to go outdoors. (49/lup)

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