Another day of riots for Indonesia
January 9, 1999

CNN Online

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- A day after two people were killed in riots on Indonesia's main island of Java, police on Saturday were forced to fire warning shots to break up fresh demonstrations.

Rioters, many of them high school students, threw stones and bottles at police and looted shops in the town of Karawang, near the capital of Jakarta.

Authorities, meanwhile, questioned dozens of people who were detained during Friday's more widespread rioting and looting that left two people dead and at least a dozen injured.

At least 55 people were in detention, and authorities were trying to identify instigators of the unrest.

On Saturday, most shops in Karawang were closed as security forces in trucks and jeeps chased rioters.

The protests a day earlier began after rumors spread that police had mistreated motorcycle drivers who ferry passengers for a living.

Thousands of people hurled stones at police stations and looted shops. Rioters also smashed the windows of a bank, a hotel, two Protestant churches and attacked the home of an ethnic Chinese businessman.

Police fired plastic bullets at the mobs, killing a 19-year- old high school student and a 36-year-old construction worker. Nine other people suffered bullet wounds and four police were hit by rocks and seriously injured.

Indonesia has been plagued by civil unrest in the past year, much of it linked to economic hardship, ethnic and religious tensions and political turmoil. Riots and protests helped force former authoritarian President Suharto to quit in May.

Many of those arrested in Karawang were looters and had been caught carrying stolen food and clothing, police Sgt. Imam Hanafi said.

But he indicated that the majority would likely be released because investigators were focusing on who started the riots. Although mobs have attacked police, much of the violence has lacked any political motive.

The authorities now fear that violence may escalate ahead of national elections planned for June.

Report: Suharto son a no-show

In Jakarta, a son of Suharto failed to appear at the attorney general's office for questioning about his alleged role in a land scam, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Government prosecutors are investigating business projects linked to Suharto and his family, who are alleged to have built up huge business empires at the expense of the state. The authoritarian Suharto quit in May after riots and protests against his rule.

His youngest son, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, did not answer a summons to the attorney general's office Thursday, the Republika daily newspaper reported. Prosecutors plan to issue a second summons soon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.