Ambon (AsiaNews) - The sectarian violence that rocked
Ambon, the capital of the Indonesian province of Maluku, yesterday has left 4
people dead and at least 20 homes burned to the ground, which fortunately had
been evacuated before the fire. It is still unclear what caused the outbreak of
tension that pitted the two groups of local residents against each other, but
the government was forced to send 300 soldiers in riot gear in an effort to
minimize the damage.
The two groups clashed in the village of Seith, on the coastline of the sub-district of Leihitu: they attacked each other with stones and sharp weapons, then set the homes of their rivals on fire. The day before, similar violence exploded in the village of Way Galih, but without causing casualties.
Authorities fear that the violence could be a throwback to the long period of tensions between the Islamists and the Protestant Christian community, which left thousands dead on both sides and churches and mosques destroyed. In 2002 political authorities succeeded in quelling the violence and in persuading the parties to sign a peace agreement that until now seemed to have held up well.