Molucca Violence Toll at 20

From Associated Press

The death toll in the Molucca islands rose to 20 as fighting continued Saturday between security forces and Muslim militias, Indonesian officials said.

Hundreds of police and soldiers raided Muslim-controlled parts of the city of Ambon on Thursday and Friday, said Brig. Gen. Made Yasa, the military commander.

A soldier and 19 civilians were killed, and dozens of others, including a TV cameraman, were injured when Muslim militants shot at them with arrows.

The city remained tense Saturday. Soldiers patrolled the streets, but there were no reports of renewed violence.

The attack came two days after a group of masked men raided a Christian neighborhood, killing five people.

Rights activist Malik Selang said the fighting started when security forces tried to confiscate weapons from Muslim paramilitary groups. The militiamen refused to hand over guns and other homemade weapons, and instead attacked the soldiers.

The Molucca islands, 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta, have been racked by fighting between Christians and Muslims since January 1999. At least 5,000 people have been killed. The Moluccas were known as the Spice Islands during Dutch colonial rule.

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