100 Solo students hurt in clash


Central Java town becomes focus of unrest as demonstrations for reform continue.

MORE than 100 students were hurt when they clashed with security forces as the Central Java town of Solo became a focus of unrest yesterday.

Riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas after protesters from the 11 March University started throwing rocks at them, continuing a cycle of violence.

Sources in Solo said over 100 students were hurt during the confrontation and ambulances ferried the wounded to hospitals.

“Some of them are suffering from wounds caused by the rubber bullets,” ambulance crewman Sutrisno said, adding that many sustained minor injuries, including the effects of tear gas and were treated by medics on the field. Others with more serious injuries were warded in the Murwati hospital.

The situation was much worse compared to Thursday when 11 students from Muhammadiyah University were injured after clashing with troops. In that incident, students used molotov cocktails, he added.

The district military command in Solo told The Straits Times yesterday night that the situation was “back to normal and not serious because it was confined near campus grounds”.

Elsewhere, the situation was less bleak but still foreboding as violence lurked across the archipelago.

In the North Sumatran capital of Medan, tensions appeared to have eased after four days of intense rioting which saw looting and burning of property.

Students from the University of North Sumatra (USU) resumed demonstrations yesterday – a week after the campus was closed to defuse tensions.

USU lecturer Jhon Ritonga said 1,000 students staged an anti-Suharto protest under the watchful eyes of the military.

“This is a warm-up session and I would expect it to get out of hand in the next few days if there are outside elements trying to instigate the students,” he said.

At the Teachers University in West Jakarta, some 300 students held a mock trial of President Suharto and burnt an effigy of him as troops watched nearby.

The military response in other towns were also muted despite students taking their protests on to the streets.

In Surabaya, East Java, students from several universities marched on the streets and in motorcades. Teachers joined some 3,000 students and called on Mr Suharto to quit.

Doctors and paramedics at the Sutomo hospital also gathered to call for political and economic reforms.

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