Thousands of students in clash with Jakarta police

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The Independent Online
VIOLENCE FLARED on the streets of Jakarta yesterday as 10,000 demonstrators, many of them students, clashed with police backed by troops, some of whom were armed with semi- automatic weapons.

There were unconfirmed reports that at least three people were killed in the disturbances. The students, brandishing sticks, were protesting against a state security Bill widening the scope of the already powerful military. Many Indonesians fear a coup by stealth and the rollback of democratic gains, which have been achieved since the overthrow of the Suharto regime.

Serious injuries were reported in yesterday's unrest. Witnesses saw protesters with bullet wounds taken to hospital.

Local news agencies said that the clashes began when riot police stopped the demonstrators converging on parliament. The students were held back by lines of heavily armed police firing in the air. They were then tear- gassed, which provoked a hail of stones and petrol bombs as the protesters tried to stand their ground. Two vehicles were burnt and smashed to pieces as the demonstrators chanted anti- military slogans and sang songs to taunt the troops.

The Bill, which will become law when President B J Habibie signs it, will beef up army powers to arrest and detain under any state of emergency the President imposes.