5 killed, 8 injured in Maluku inter-village clash
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Days before the beginning of the New Year, another bloody, inter-village clash took place in West Seram, Maluku, adding to the number of grisly conflicts that have tainted the nation in 2012.
Five people were killed and eight others injured in a clash between the two neighboring villages of Hualoi and Sepa in West Seram on Saturday afternoon.
The clash was reportedly triggered by a vehicle driven by Sepa residents that sideswiped a Hualoi villager when an entourage from Sepa passed Hualoi Village on Friday, according to National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto.
The incident sparked arguments between the two sides and allegedly prompted angry Hualoi villagers to attack Sepa residents.
“On Saturday at around 2:30 p.m. local time, Sepa villagers passed Hualoi village again after attending the inauguration of the Kamariang village head. That was when the clash broke out and claimed five lives and injured eight others,” Agus said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Sunday.
Agus said all the casualties had been taken to Ambon. “Around 110 Hualoi residents have also been taken to the Central Maluku Police station following the attack,” he added.
West Seram Regent Jakobus Puttileihalat called on villagers to remain calm.
“Don’t get easily provoked and don’t take the law into your own hands because you will end up facing the police,” said Jakobus as quoted by Antara news agency.
“I don’t want to see any more victims. So please, stop fighting. Let the police handle this case,” he added.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Suhardi Alius told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that a joint police and army force had been deployed to the conflict zone to prevent another clash.
“We have almost 300 personnel from the National Police and the Indonesian Military [TNI] guarding the site,” he told the Post in a text message.
The clash is not the first horizontal conflict to occur in Maluku this month. A week ago, six people were shot in a fight between the Sirisori Amalatu and Tuhaha villagers of Saparua Island, Maluku.
Horizontal conflicts have been a central security threat across the archipelago. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) recorded 32 communal conflicts between January and November, claiming 28 lives and injuring more than 200 people.
The eastern part of Indonesia: Papua and Central Sulawesi, remain hotbeds for horizontal conflict.
Kontras recorded 10 clashes in Aceh and Lampung and suggested that the conflicts were mostly rooted in economic disparities, land disputes and political interests in regional elections.
Meanwhile, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo predicted that communal conflict would remain one of the country’s major security problems due to lingering issues of tribal affiliations, religion, race and societal groups (SARA) in some regions.
“Therefore, we urge public participation in monitoring and handling the security problem in the upcoming year. The National Police still need support from society,” he said.