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INDONESIA: ETHNIC CHINESE BECOME VICTIMS OF ONGOING RIOTING

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(7 May 1998) Natural Sound

The Indonesian military flew in reinforcements on Thursday as hundreds of Chinese people fled Indonesia's third-largest city Medan.

The ethnic Chinese have become victims of ongoing rioting which started with student protests against a rise in fuel, electricity and transport prices.

Hundreds of looters shouted "Burn it down" as they banged on kerosene drums and hurled stones at a Chinese-owned shop in Titipatan, a town near Medan.

They scattered when police moved in.

Truckloads of police and soldiers with rifles and tear gas canisters patrolled the rubble-strewn streets.

Looters sifted through wrecked stores, pilfering cassettes, videotapes and other goods.

Some ethnic Chinese shopkeepers opened their shops, peering warily from behind the shutters.

Indonesia's ethnic Chinese minority, which dominates commerce in the mostly Muslim nation of 200 (m) million, is often targeted when social discontent boils over.

Many Indonesians resent the Chinese success and wealth.

Many Chinese children and elderly people quit their homes to stay with relatives outside Medan, crowding the airport to leave on fully booked flights.

Two people have already been killed in Medan's mayhem

One was burned to death on Tuesday in a shop set alight by looters and the other was trampled on Wednesday night when rioters fled from soldiers in armored cars.

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