Christian Mobs in Indonesia Burn 4 Mosques in Revenge

From Associated Press

A protest by thousands of Christians in eastern Indonesia turned into a riot Monday, and mobs angry about the recent burnings of churches set fire to four mosques.

The rampaging crowds also burned a market, a Muslim school and a hostel for Islamic pilgrims in Kupang, a Christian-dominated city of 120,000, the military said.

Several Muslim prayer rooms and other places of Islamic worship also were attacked, the official Antara news agency reported.

The violence came in retaliation for the burning and ransacking of 22 churches by Muslim mobs in the capital, Jakarta, on Nov. 22, when 14 people were killed.

By Monday night, troops and riot police patrolled Kupang, on the island of Timor, and there were no reports of serious injuries or arrests, said a military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Both Christian and Muslim leaders moved quickly to cool tensions. The Roman Catholic bishop of Kupang, Petrus Turang, apologized on TV for the burnings, and Islamic leaders urged Indonesia's Muslim majority not to retaliate.

Protestants and Catholics dominate Kupang, 1,170 miles southeast of Jakarta. However, a sizable Muslim minority also lives there, and Indonesia itself is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The Kupang riot began after thousands of Christians staged what was supposed to be a nonviolent "day of mourning" over the Jakarta church burnings. Tens of thousands of people blocked the streets and stopped vehicles, witnesses said.

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