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Violence Continues In Sabah State

March 20, 1986

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Fire from an apparent bomb blast destroyed two automobiles today in Kota Kinabula, the capital of Sabah State on Borneo Island, where 10 days of sectarian rioting has left at least five people dead, police said.

The city remained tense today with most shops closed and most of the population of 150,000 staying indoors even after police lifted a day-long curfew aimed at ending the unrest, Bernama, the national news agency reported.

Police said they detained a youth in a small boat at a nearby jetty for suspected involvement in the apparent explosion. No injuries were reported.

At least 500 Moslem rioters remained holed up in a downtown state mosque where they had taken refuge Wednesday night after riots left two people dead and dozens injured.

Police said about 1,500 Moslem rioters surged from the mosque Wednesday and smashed and burned cars and shops, and attacked police with sticks, stones and knives when asked to disperse.

Sabah police chief Ahmad Maulana said the casualties included a Filipino Moslem carpenter who was in the country legally on a work permit, and a schoolboy, Chan Tiang Siang, 14, who panicked and ran into a car after the Moslems stoned a Christian school.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told Parliament on Wednesday night he will not impose emergency rule in the state, saying the government had to act cautiously because the situation involved politics. There was no further explanation of his remarks and police have not given any explanation for the rioting.

Mahathir was scheduled to visit Sabah, which is seperated from the mainland peninsula of Malaysia by 600 miles of the south China Sea. But he said as a result of the violence, he may move up his visit. It had been scheduled for April 4 or 5.

Christians form about 40 percent of Sabah’s population of 1.2 million. About 25 percent are Moslems.

Officials of the governing, Christian-backed Sabah United Party have accused the opposition United Sabah National Organization and Berjaya parties, backed by Moslems, of instigating the violence.

But Berjaya and USNO leaders say the violence it has resulted from what they call the ineffective rule by Sabah Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan, and are calling for his dismissal.

Kitingan dissolved the 54-seat assembly on Feb. 26 and called for elections within 90 days, but no date has been set.

His party was elected to power on April 21, 1985 with a slim majority, but a number of its state assemblymen quit the party last month.

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