Protesters shot in Jakarta riots

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The Independent Online
RIOT SQUADS fired shots and tear gas when thousands of student demonstrators demanding democratic reform tried to storm the Indonesian parliament building yesterday.

One student was shot dead and 10 others had gunshot wounds, an official at Jakarta's navy hospital said. Another 60 were reported injured at three other hospitals, he said. Most were beaten or overcome by tear gas.

Many of the more than 4,000 protesters threw rocks, bottles and petrol bombs at police and troops who beat them back with clubs. The military said four security officers were seriously injured.

Some heavily bleeding students were carried to safety by their friends through clouds of tear gas. Paramedics applied first aid on the street to dozens of other demonstrators.

Students fought back against the security forces with sticks, and some soldiers hurled rocks at protesters.

It was the second day thatstudents clashed with security forces and the worst violencesince 13 November, when 14 died after troops fired on students who tried to march on the parliament building.

The single reported death happened despite assurances by the military that troops and police had been issued with plastic or blank ammunition.

Hours before the street battle, President BJ Habibie warned that Indonesia might break up if the protests escalated.

"If the protests are not controlled it can lead to the disintegration of the nation," he said at a graduation ceremony of new army officers.

For weeks, students have taken to the streets demanding that President Habibie force the military out of politics and put his predecessor, Suharto, on trial for corruption. (AP)

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