|Rioters burn churches
in Indonesia's West Java
|Conflicts triggered by religious differences more dangerous than those caused by ethnic and racial differences says Armed Forces chief|
JAKARTA, Dec 26 (Reuter) Rioters in mainly Moslem Indonesia set ablaze at least three Christian churches, several other buildings and cars in the West Java town of Tasik- malaya on Thursday, a police official and residents said. They said the reason for the attacks was not immediately clear, but residents said groups of youths were rampaging through the town that had been cordoned off by police, about 200 km (125 miles) southeast of Jakarta. "Yes, three churches have been set on fire by the people. I don't know why they are doing it, or the full extent of the damage," a police official told Reuters by telephone. A resident, Chuisan, said several churches, commercial buildings and houses had been badly damaged by groups of people, mostly youths rampaging through the town. "There's a group of people knocking on my door right now," he told Reuters before hanging up the telephone. Another witness said police and soldiers had cordoned off the town. He said he could see smoke billowing from the town centre. In October, 25 churches and a temple were burnt down and five people died after a mob went on the rampage in the Situbondo area of East Java. The trial of five Indonesians accused of taking part in the riot opened on December 17. They were the first of 53 people expected to face trial. The mob ran amok during the court case of a Moslem heretic being tried for blasphemy. The man subsequently received a prison sentence. Armed forces chief General Feisal Tanjung said in Irian Jaya province on Wednesday that conflicts triggered by religious differences in Indonesia were more dangerous than those caused by ethnic and racial differences, the official Antara news agency reported. More than 80 percent of Indonesia's nearly 200 million people are Moslems, but the government recognises all the world's major religions.
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