Indonesian authorities yesterday detained seven people in northern Sumatra on suspicion of attacking several Buddhist temples on Friday night, officials said.
A spokeswoman for North Sumatra provincial police said the seven were part of a mob that damaged at least three temples and other property in the town of Tanjung Balai, near Indonesia’s fourth-biggest city Medan. No one was injured.
Indonesia is a Muslim-majority nation, but has a sizable ethnic Chinese minority, many of whom are Buddhist.
The country has a history of anti-Chinese violence, most recently in the late 1990s amid the political and economic crisis that brought down former Indonesian president Suharto.
However, police officials denied Friday’s attack was aimed at the Chinese community.
“This was just a [dispute between] individuals,” North Sumatra Police Spokeswoman Rina Sari Ginting said, adding that the situation was now under control.
Indonesia, where the majority of the population practices a moderate form of Islam, sees sporadic attacks on religious minorities by Muslim hardliners, but authorities are quick to crack down on any violent incidents.
Hundreds of security personnel were deployed late last year when a mob burned down a number of churches in Aceh Province, saying they did not have the right building permits.
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