President urges extremist crackdown

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A statue of Jesus Christ is left smashed on the floor in Temanggung, Indonesia (AP)

Indonesia’s president said violent, hard-line groups should be disbanded after mobs set churches on fire and killed three members of a minority Islamic sect.

The attacks raised concerns about escalating religious intolerance in the secular nation that has more than 220 million Muslims, most of whom are moderate.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament and rarely criticises hard-liners – did not identify any group by name.

But he said such violence “was against the law” and groups involved “should be disbanded”.

On Sunday, 1,500 hard-liners attacked Ahmadiyah sect members with sticks and machetes, killing three men.

On Tuesday, a mob set two churches ablaze to protest against a Christian’s blasphemy sentence as too lenient.

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