Six people are dead and an estimated 80 injured after violent clashes between Christians and Muslims that erupted Sunday in Indonesia. The government decided to deploy troops Monday after houses, cars and motorbikes were set on fire, and crowds reportedly were fighting Indonesian police with rocks and machetes.
Some 400 additional officers were sent to Amobon, in eastern Indonesian, the National Police chief Gen Timur Pradopo told BBC.
The violence broke out during a Muslim funeral ceremony in Ambon, the main city and seaport on Ambon Island. Two sides started hurling insults at each other, then stones. The animosity was caused by a rumor that a motorcycle taxi driver was tortured and killed by a group of Christians.
The rumor was apparently spread among the people via text messages, though local police stated that Darvin Saiman, the dead Muslim, perished on his way to the hospital after a road accident in which he lost control of his motorbike and crashed.
On Tuesday, the city was slowly returning to normal, with troops still present and authorities focusing on preventing more violence, the Indonesian security minister told BBC.
Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, with 203 million people practicing Islam, 86.1 percent of the population. Christianity is the second most popular religion, with Protestants making up an estimated 5.7 percent of the Indonesian population and Catholics 3 percent. An estimated 1.8 percent of Indonesians practice Hinduism.
The country has a long history of sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims. During a fairly recent, particularly bloody three-year period, between 1999 and 2002, more then 5,000 people were killed.