[Updated at 3:22 p.m. on Friday, July 17, 2015, to add background on conflict, comment from Jusuf Kalla and police chief]
Jayapura, Papua. Residents in Papua’s Tolikara district on Friday morning attacked a group of Muslims who were about to perform Idul Fitri prayers, throwing rocks at the congregation and setting fire to their mosque in an apparent dispute over its loudspeakers.
Security forces fired warning shots to disperse the crowd of about 200 after the Muslims had fled the scene, running toward a nearby military post.
People in the crowd chanted “No [Islamic] worship in Tolikara district” and called for the prayer meeting to be disbanded.
The Islamic prayer, to celebrate the end of the fasting month Ramadan, was to be held at the office of the Karubaga subdistrict military command at around 7 a.m.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla called the incident “regrettable,” adding that it had been sparked by a dispute over the volume of the mosque’s loudspeakers.
“Two events were held there, quite close to each other. There was an Idul Fitri gathering and there was a meeting of church leaders,” Kalla said. “It really started with those speakers, maybe what is needed is better communication for these kinds of events.”
The vice president also called for mutual respect and restraint.
Apart from the mosque, several homes and food stalls owned by Muslims went up in flames.
Gen. Badrodin Haiti, the chief of National Police, confirmed that the conflict was related to the loudspeakers but that it had already been resolved, adding that it was not necessary to send in reinforcements.
Majority-Christian Papua has long been the scene of a low-intensity struggle for independence, with separatists targeting police and military forces they see as representatives of a Javanese-dominated and majority-Muslim state occupying their land.
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