05/06/2004, 00.00
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More sniper victims, police say they do not know who the snipers are

Ambon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Today, gunmen travelling in a speedboat shot and killed two villagers on Buru island – an 11 month-old baby and a 38 year-old Christian fisherman. Three other people were wounded. Yesterday morning, gunmen also in a speedboat shot a boy dead and injured a girl in the same island.

There are fears of a return to recurrent clashes between Muslims and Christians, who signed a peace deal in 2002, which controlled but didn't end the violence. That conflict which began in 1999 caused the death of at least 5,000 people, and left half a million refugees.

Police have not yet captured any of the mysterious snipers.  Instead they have arrested a number of separatists – those who want to constitute a Republic of the Molucca of the South (RMS) - accused of participating in the Ambon clashes of the past week.

"Currently we are dealing with the RMS. But I can't say the snipers are its members. They could be from another group." Gen. Bambang Sutrisno, Chief of the Malucca Police said, declining any further information as no sniper is yet in custody, though they have operated in open areas.

Endro Prasetyo, spokesman for the Molucca police, said that the paramilitary police (Brimod), sent to Jakarta on 25 April to anticipate new attacks, searched the area and fired at some snipers.  "Several snipers have been shot, but their identities remain unknown because they were immediately rescued by their accomplices," he told The Jakarta Post today.

Meanwhile, the argument continues of whether or not any members of the army are involved in the conflict.  The head of the Indonesian Army (TNI) Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, said he would deal severely with any soldiers found to be cooperating in the conflict. "If people can provide reliable evidence that shows the involvement of soldiers in the crashes, I will arrest the soldiers and they will stand trial."  At the same time, he threatened to sue anyone who blames the TNI for the violence that broke out on April 25th, saying that the military had no "political agenda" in view of the July 5th presidential election.



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