Muslim Extremists Keep Up Attacks on Catholic Villages

Two-Year Death Toll in Moluccas Estimated at 8,000

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AMBON, Indonesia, DEC. 14, 2000 (
The Muslim fundamentalists´ «holy war» continues to claim Christian victims in the Indonesian archipelago of the Moluccas.

According to the international agency Fides, Muslim fundamentalists Dec. 1 attacked the Catholic villages of Korfutin and Korlokin on the island of Teor, east of Ceram. Many homes were destroyed and people were forced to flee.

Teor is near Keswui and is part of a group of small islands that join Ceram with the Kei Islands. There are five Catholic and one mixed Catholic-Protestant villages in Teor.

The Crisis Center of the Amboina Diocese told Fides that the confrontations in Keswui have escalated tensions over the last few weeks. Terrified Christians have begun leaving the island in small boats, destined for the Kei Islands.

Father Fred Sarkol, who is in the Kei Islands, reports the arrival of a steady stream of refugees, as Muslims continue to threaten Christians. On Dec. 8, Paulina Kplatlena, Protestant minister of the Rumoy community was ordered to convert to Islam under pain of death.

However, although there is tension in the central Moluccas, a peace process has begun in the north of the archipelago. On Dec. 24, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Indonesian vice president, will visit Halmahera island and sign an official document of Christian-Muslim reconciliation in the village of Mamuya, on the border between Galela and Tobelo, two areas that were in open conflict in the past.

According to Fides, 8,000 people have died in the past two years as a result of the confrontations provoked primarily by radical Muslims to expel the Christian communities.

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