Army patrols tense Indonesian riot town
January 9, 1999


KARAWANG, Indonesia, Jan 9 (AFP) - Troops patrolled the streets here Saturday a day after two were killed when police opened fire to stem rioting and looting.

"It's not settled down yet. There are lots of army troops out on the streets," said a security guard at a Bank Central Asia office in the town 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Jakarta.

The bank, like all shops and businesses here, was shut, the guard told AFP.

By early afternoon an AFP photographer said buses and and other means of transport had started running again, and that the troops were mostly resting in front of the shuttered shops.

Many of the shops had signs saying "Pribumi" (native Indonesian) prominently displayed in the shattered windows, in the hope of avoiding further destruction from mobs which traditionally target ethnic-Chinese.

A resident said the troops were from the West Java command and that police were absent from the streets.

Police spokesmen were not available for comment, but the private SCTV television quoted Karawang district police chief Lieutenant Colonel Achmad Hidayat as saying 58 youths had been detained for questioning.

SCTV put the number of seriously injured at 14, with a further 15 slightly injured in Friday's violence.

A security guard at Karawang hospital, Dedeng (eds: one name), said 31 people had been treated, two of whom had died and with 10 suffering serious injuries from bullets or rocks.

Dedeng said an 18-year-old youth died of a gunshot wound in the chest when police troops opened fire to try to control the mobs, while a second man had died after suffering gunshoot wounds to the legs.

He identified the second victim as Udin bin Sali, a shopkeeper.

"He was just passing by on his way home, he was not involved in the riot at all," Dedeng told AFP.

At the private Dewi Sri hospital, an information office clerk, Nunung, said the hospital had treated five riot victims as outpatients and admitted two others, one of whom had already been released.

The day-long riot Friday, the worst in Indonesia since the start of the year, degenerated into looting and vandalizing of shops and churches.

Police fired several times in attempts to control the mob.

The violence erupted after a mob of thousands gathered early in the day and moved to attack the local police station.

The station was pelted with rocks, and the crowd, dispersed with warning shots fired into their midst, regrouped nearby and began to pelt shops and businesses.

The crowd rampaged down the main shop-lined streets, stoning buildings, including three churches, smashing flower pots, and dragging furniture into the street and burning it.

Hundreds of shops, showrooms, malls and shopping centres, four police posts and a sub-district police station were damaged by the mob, Colonel Hidayat told the Antara news agency.

One car was also set on fire, the private radio Sonora said.

Lieutenant Colonel Saleh of the national police information office in Jakarta said Friday the trouble had started Thursday over the rumored harsh ticketing of a driver of a motorcycle taxi.

The protests swelled during Thursday, simmered during the night, then erupted again Friday.