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Fresh Muslim-Christian violence in Moluccas

The Muslim-Christian conflict in the Moluccas has erupted once more after a two-month lull, with new attacks against Christian communities.

Last weekend the bodies of two Christians were found in the Mardika and Wailela neighborhoods, the missionary agency Misna reported. It quoted sources of the Crisis Center of the Catholic Diocese of Ambon, capital of the Moluccas.

The Vatican agency Fides reported earlier this month that an armed Muslim militia, composed of hundreds of people, attacked the primarily Christian village of Waimulang, killing four people and taking 13 military men hostage.

The militia destroyed at least 350 homes. More than 1000 residents fled into the forest for safety.

Tensions continue to escalate. The Gonzalo Veloso mission, directed by the missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Ambon, is the scene of nightly shootings between Muslim guerrillas, who support the jihad, and the military and police.

The believe the militia's objective is to occupy the mission complex, located on the outskirts of Karang Panjang, and turn it into their main barracks. The mission was attacked on 12 June by extremists.

Muslim-Christian clashes began in January 1999, over a dispute in Ambon between immigrants and local residents. The situation has degenerated since then, causing murders, mass assaults, and attacks. Thousands have died.