Gunmen have killed five police officers from an elite unit in a pre-dawn attack in Indonesia’s strife-torn Moluccas islands, police said on Monday.
Moluccas police spokesman Endro Prasetyo said one unidentified attacker had died in the raid on a security post in the chain of islands where thousands of people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians from 1999 to 2002.
Prasetyo said about six attackers raided the post in remote Loki village on Seram island, where 14 members of the mobile brigade were sleeping, prompting an exchange of fire.
“There are six dead. Five from the mobile brigade and one from the unidentified group. When they were attacked, the officers were asleep,” said Prasetyo from the Moluccas provincial capital of Ambon, which is on an island near Seram.
Ambon, about 2,300 km (1,440 miles) east of Jakarta, is where the worst fighting between Muslims and Christians blew up from 1999 to 2002. Clashes also occurred on Seram at that time.
Since a 2002 truce, sectarian clashes in the archipelago have subsided, although violence still sporadically erupts.
Police said they had no idea who was behind Monday’s attack.
“We are having difficulties in identifying them. We don’t know the motive yet. We found an old rifle, bullet shells and homemade bombs. I think there is a party who wants to provoke a situation that is not conducive (to stability),” said Prasetyo.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation with about 85 percent of its 220 million population following Islam. Ambon, like many areas in the country’s east, has a roughly equal proportion of Muslims and Christians.