US 'deplores' religious killings in Indonesia

Washington, USA - THE US has condemned an outbreak of religious violence in Indonesia that left three people dead and several churches badly damaged.

The violence erupted on Sunday when a mob of 1000 Muslim extremists attacked members of the minority Ahmadiyah sect in West Java province.

A video of the lynching shows the Muslim fanatics armed with machetes, sticks and rocks screaming "Allahu akbar" as they set upon their victims.

In a separate incident yesterday, more than 1500 Muslims went on a rampage in Central Java, setting two churches alight and ransacking a school, after a Christian man was sentenced to five years in jail for blaspheming Islam. The group wanted him punished with death.

"The United States joins the vast majority of Indonesians in deploring the violence in Indonesia directed at members of the Ahmadiyah community that resulted in the deaths of three people and the wounding of several others over this past weekend," said the US ambassador to Indonesia, Scot Marciel.

"We also note with concern the recent church burnings in Central Java."

Human rights organizations urged Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to do more to combat intolerance in the majority Muslim country of 240 million people.

The US ambassador said Yudhoyono's condemnation of Sunday's incident confirmed Indonesia's "commitment to the rule of law."

"We encourage the Indonesian government to continue to foster tolerance and protect the rights of all communities," Marciel said.

US President Barack Obama visited Indonesia in November and praised its "spirit of religious tolerance" as an "example to the world."