Religious tensions flared again in January as 95 people died in a weeklong series of riots on four eastern Indonesian islands in the province of Maluku. It marked the nation's worst violence since President Suharto resigned last May.

Two-dozen churches and mosques as well as 570 homes and businesses were destroyed in the rampage, the worst of it on Ambon Island. Christians and Muslims attacked each other with knives and machetes. A priest was killed and a Roman Catholic church built in 1780 burned down on Ambon Island, 1,400 miles northeast of Jakarta.

At the height of the conflict, around 20,000 people fled to military bases, police stations, and houses of worship for safety. Thousands of troops and police took to the streets to restore order in the world's most populous Islamic country.

Religious-based riots have broken out sporadically for more than two years in Indonesia (CT, March 3, 1997, p. 50). At times, ethnic Chinese Christians have been targeted (CT, July 13, 1998, p. 18).

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.