Posts made in October, 2017

The Maluku Civil War: Yongab

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Maluku Civil War: Yongab

There were several hundred military and police deserters in Maluku, mostly from organic army and police forces. Many left with weapons and ammunition, and joined the combatants. Others joined the fighting on a part-time basis, returning to their units before being charged with desertion. Individuals became involved for various reasons, a minority for purely religious convictions; some sought to avenge family members; others were coerced by threats to themselves or their families, or by offers of payment. Commanders downplayed the desertion problems, often carrying members on the rolls for months after they should have been reported. During a moment of candor in mid-2000, Brigadier General I Made Yasa estimated 350 troops had deserted. After taking command in February 2001, Maluku Pattimura Regional Commander Brigadier General Mustopo said about 18 percent of his troops (several hundred men) had deserted in 2000. [1] Starting in late-1999 and accelerating after outside groups arrived in mid-2000, snipers plagued Ambon residents, continuing through late-2002. Sharpshooters with high-powered rifles fired into neighborhoods and at speedboats that shuttled passengers between islands and around the segregated communities. They were assumed to be military or police deserters. Many suspected Kopassus was involved, since red berets received sniper training and the elite troops had been implicated in provoking the conflict. The snipers targeted residents from both communities, often following a tit-for-tat pattern. For instance, a speedboat sunk off the Ambon coast on November 18, 2000, killing all sixteen Muslims aboard; that was followed by several attacks on boats carrying Christian passengers. Locals mounted a counter-sniper campaign. Referred to as “dopers,” they used glowing mosquito coils to attract sniper fire at night. The dopers were said to have captured and decapitated snipers, leaving their mutilated bodies in the streets. [2] There were occasional sniper attacks in North Maluku. Snipers sank a boat carrying Muslim passengers from Ternate to Halmahera in December 2000. The first Joint Battalion (Batalyon Gabungan, Yongab) arrived in Ambon on August 9, 2000 — comprising Army Special Forces (Kopassus), navy Denjaka (Detasemen Jala Mangkara, named after a mythical guardian of the sea, commonly known as the “Sea Ghosts”), marines and air force Paskhas (Special Forces). Just three days later, Yongab troops fired warning shots to break up a firefight across the Mardika-Batumerah demarcation line. Muslim fighters directed fire on the Yongab soldiers, killing six and injuring eighteen. After that, Yongab showed no mercy to the jihad groups, severely beating fighters who they captured. The special troops were segregated from the population and developed a reputation for being tough and disciplined. Their heavy-handed methods were deliberate and intended to intimidate the combatants. In September, while conducting weapons sweeps, Yongab troops arrested and badly manhandled a dozen Laskar Jihad members. [3] Yongab’s aggressive tactics put Laskar Jihad and its allies on defense and lessened the level of violence in and around Ambon. Brigadier General Yasa issued shoot-on-sight orders for rioters on September 30 and explained his intention to replace persuasive methods with repressive measures. During October, soldiers shot attackers on Galela, Halong and Suli. On November 25, troops repulsed a Laskar Jihad attack on Kairatu village on Seram Island,...

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