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(WSWS) – Communal violence in Ambon, the capital of Indonesia’s Maluku province (previously known as Molucca), over the past month has sparked fears of a return to fighting between Christian and Muslim militias that claimed up to 6,000 lives before a peace deal in February 2002. The violence erupted on April 25 following a provocative incident involving the separatist Front for Moluccan Sovereignty (FKM), about which many questions remain unanswered. Over the ensuing fortnight at least 38 people were killed—more than half as a result by gunfire from as yet unidentified snipers. As the unrest spread, hundreds of homes and other buildings were torched leaving as many as 10,000 people homeless. The violence took place in the lead up to the July 5 presidential election, raising further questions about possible political motives. That includes incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Far from calming the volatile situation, she sought to blame the Christian-based FKM for the death and destruction. The FKM, however, is a tiny organisation with only several hundred active members among the province’s population of about two million. It is a remnant of the movement for an independent Republic of the South Moluccas (RMS) promoted by the Dutch to undermine opposition to its colonial rule immediately after World War II. On May 22, Megawati flew into Ambon for a two-hour visit under heavy security. She used her meeting with the province’s religious leaders to declare that the RMS movement had to be crushed. “All forms of separatism should be wiped out because they threaten the Unitary Republic of Indonesia,” she said. Her comments amount to a rather crude attempt to appeal to nationalism and anti-Christian sentiment among the country’s Muslim majority. The security forces have set out to arrest all FKM members.