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|Thursday, July 06, 2000, updated at 20:56(GMT+8)|
Indonesian Navy Vows to Attack Vessels Carrying Weapons to MalukuIndonesian Navy Chief Admiral Achmad Sutjipto warned against those trying to smuggle weapons to warring groups in the riot-torn Maluku.
He reiterated that if any vessel allegedly carrying weapons ignores the warnings, the Navy will sink the vessel.
"If the vessel retaliates, we will attack and sink it," Sutjipto was quoted by the Indonesian Observer Thursday as saying.
The Navy chief said that until now the Indonesian Navy had only given warnings to any vessels allegedly bringing weapons to Maluku.
He added he had told his staff to take stern action against intending arms smugglers.
Sutjipto said the action was necessary to support a peaceful solution to problems in the area as well as the recovery process. Operations are aimed to help the local military command put an end to the conflict.
So far, the Navy had already detained 17 vessels in waters surrounding Maluku, confiscating weapons and poisonous arrows.
In Manado, capital of North Sulawesi, the Navy Wednesday arrested Rusdin Damunwayang, commander of the Jihad Force in Maluku.
Tensions in Maluku and North Maluku have been fueled by the arrival of 2,000 hard-line Muslim fighters from Java island, who have vowed a holy war, last month.
In the riot-stricken Ambon, capital of Maluku, thousands of terrified residents fled the city on Wednesday following days of rioting that had left many houses and buildings leveled to the ground.
Many of the people, mostly from ravaged villages of Poka and Rumahtiga, used boats, the Jakarta Post reported, adding that some of them were seen swimming across the water to the nearby village of Galala.
Maluku province and the neighboring province of North Maluku have witnessed communal bloodshed involving Muslims and Christians for nearly two years. More than 3,000 people have been killed during the bloodshed.
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