Cannibal warriors feast on bodies of their victims

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MUSLIM SETTLERS were beheaded and eaten yesterday in the latest round of a savage ethnic war on the island of Borneo. At least 73 people have died in the past week, and two men were murdered and dismembered yesterday morning during an attack on the north-western village of Suka Ramai, near Sambas.

Warriors carrying spears, rifles and machetes displayed a severed ear and a human arm and offered me lumps of hearts and livers torn from the bodies of ethnic Madurese, who have become the target of a large-scale ethnic purge. One man displayed and then ate a piece of cooked flesh, which he claimed to have cut from the body of a murdered man.

The killings have taken place in the remote Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, close to the border with Malaysia. Almost all of those who have died have been settlers from the island of Madura, east of the main Indonesian population centre, Java.

For decades, land disputes and cultural differences have caused simmering tension between the Madurese and the other inhabitants of Borneo - principally ethnic Malays and the indigenous Dayak tribespeople. In February, they boiled over after a dispute about a bus fare and since then some 13,000 Madurese have fled or been evacuated to refugee camps in the regional capital, Pontianak.

Small numbers still remain in the Sambas area where they are being hunted down by Malays and Dayaks. More than 1,000 warriors, wearing headbands and carrying machetes, spears and guns, attacked Suka Ramai early yesterday morning, killing or driving out the remaining Madurese.

Those who escaped were pursued into the jungle from where shots were heard. Back in the village, their houses were looted and burnt down.

Hundreds of smouldering buildings now line the road between Sambas and the nearest significant town, Sinkawang. Malays and Dayaks have set up dozens of road-blocks at which they check cars for Madurese passengers. The small contingent of police and soldiers in the area has completely lost control of the situation.

On the drive back from Sambas to Sinkawang, a group of men at a road- block openly displayed a severed head with a cigarette stuck up a nostril. "We don't care about your race," said one man, brandishing a severed ear. "We don't care about your religion. Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Malay, Dayak, Chinese or Bugi - all are welcome here. We just don't want Madurese. All of the Madurese must leave."

Since the Asian economic crisis and the fall of President Suharto last May, there have been outbreaks of violent unrest throughout Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country.

Smiling killers, page 12