Mentally ill guarded from ninja backlash

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The Independent Online
INDONESIAN POLICE are rounding up mentally ill people in eastern Java to stop them being lynched by mobs, who believe them to be the mysterious killers known as ninjas. Up to 160 people have died at the hands of the latter, and a growing vigilante backlash is claiming more lives.

A police spokesman, Colonel Sutrisno, told Indonesia's Antara news agency that 131 people, 92 of them mentally ill, were being sheltered in police stations in east Java. In some cases, mobs had tried to break in and seize them.

The ninjas have spread fear since last August by killing people they accuse of practising black magic. One theory for their motives is that opponents of the reform process are stirring up the violence to slow down the changes which began when the former president General Suharto resigned last May.