Christians keep up exodus from Lombok
MATARAM, Indonesia, Jan 21: Thousands of Christian refugees kept up an exodus from the Indonesian resort island of Lombok Friday despite an uneasy calm after days of anti-Christian riots, witnesses and police said.
Nine buses carrying hundreds of refugees left under military escort Friday from the army headquarters where they had been sheltered to the Lembar inter-island ferry port, an AFP photographer said.
"About nine buses were used to transport the refugees from 742 Battalion headquarters in Mataram to Bali. They left escorted by about 50 troops at around noon," the photographer said.
About 1,000 others were still trapped in the Lembar area, waiting for troops to clear roadblocks of uprooted trees erected by mobs of Muslims, an administration official at Padang Bae seaport in Bali, I Gusti Arnawa, told AFP by phone.
More than 5,000 people have fled the island since Monday when the rioting broke out, according to port and airline statistics.
"As of January 18 (Tuesday) until early Friday morning, 2,603 people have disembarked at (Bali's) Benoa port... most of them were Christian refugees," port administrator, Gde Wira Wijaya, told AFP by telephone.
"There were also a small number of foreign and domestic tourists among the refugees," Wijaya said, adding three different ships had been used to cope with the influx.
Another 1,094 refugees had poured through Bali's Padang Bae port since Wednesday, Arnawa said, adding many of them had only the clothes they were wearing.