Over 40 hurt, some shot

ACEHNESE INVOLVED IN CLASH

MORE than 40 Acehnese involved in last week’s clash with Malaysian security forces are said to be suffering from various injuries, including gunshot wounds.

The immigrants, who were among the 545 illegal Indonesian workers who arrived on Monday in the northern Sumatran province of Aceh after a 24-hour voyage across the Malacca Straits, were deported by Malaysian authorities against a backdrop of resistance by them.

Hundreds of them rioted in three detention centres in Malaysia on Thursday, leading to eight Indonesian workers and one Malaysian security officer being killed.

The underground Acehnese National Liberation Front, however, said that at least 39 died in the violence.

Sources told The Straits Times yesterday that 42 of those who returned were being treated at three hospitals in Aceh. At least 17 were taken to Lhokseumawe Hospital, 20 to Kresem Military Hospital and five to Renceng Hospital.

An official from the Lhokseumawe Hospital, who wanted to be known only as Mr Muhammad, said that two patients were being treated for gunshot wounds to their legs while others had bruises and broken limbs.

None of the patients, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s, was in life-threatening condition.

“One man underwent surgery today to remove a bullet from his left leg,” said a source.

Officials at the other two hospitals declined to comment on the condition of the illegal workers who had just returned from Malaysia.

Malaysia plans to repatriate 10,000 of such workers in the next few weeks as part of a concerted effort to crack down on the growing number of foreigners heading for the country in the wake of the economic crisis.

The Jakarta Post reported yesterday that 972 of them arrived in the North Sumatran capital of Medan on Monday.

A local official was quoted as saying that the migrants would be taken to their home provinces on government buses. Most of them came from West Java, Central Java, Riau, Lampung, Jambi, as well as the eastern islands of Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara and Flores.

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