Survivors of Jihad attack in Indonesia's Moluccas under threat

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Survivors of Jihad attack in Indonesia's Moluccas under threat

9 August 2000 (Newsroom) -- Some 2,000 survivors of an attack last week on a Christian village on Indonesia's eastern island of Ambon are hiding under life-threatening conditions in a nearby jungle, according to the Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA).

At least 29 residents of Waai have died of starvation or disease, or from being shot by extremist Muslim warriors who destroyed their village in an ongoing "holy war" declared on Christians in the Maluku islands, MISNA said. International aid groups, including Doctors without Borders, are in the area, but many of the refugees remain in jungle hideouts for fear of being attacked again, according to news reports.

Thousands of refugees from other attacked villages on Ambon are receiving food, water, and medical care at a warehouse in the village of Passo, up the coast from Waai. Residents of Passo believe, however, their village also has been targeted for attack, news reports said.

Fighting in the Maluku islands, or Moluccas, has escalated in the past month despite the state of emergency Indonesia imposed on the region in June. Thousands of trained troops from the Laskar Jihad, or "Banner of Holy War," entered the area in May with the expressed purpose of expelling all Christians from the islands.

Local church leaders have called for a United Nations peacekeeping mission to help end the war. Indonesia's state-appointed National Commission for Human Rights made the same request last Friday. Since January 1999, more than 4,000 people have died in the conflict and 350,000 have been displaced, the church leaders say.

Meanwhile, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid announced Wednesday that he is handing over the daily governing of the country to vice president Megawati Sukarnoputri. The decision came after the Muslim political parties who brought Wahid to power sharply criticized his performance. Wahid also is said to be in poor health.

In her 10 months as vice president, Megawati has made several trips to the Moluccas in an attempt to solve the conflict.

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Used with permission.