Indonesia Ahmadiyah Muslim sect killings condemned

House of an Ahmadi after it was attacked by Muslim mob in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011
Image caption Ahmadiyah sect members have been attacked and killed for their beliefs

The Indonesian government has condemned an attack against supporters of a minority Muslim sect at the weekend, which left three people dead.

The victims belonged to the Ahmadiyah sect, which has been ordered by officials to stop spreading unorthodox beliefs and return to mainstream Islam.

More than 1,000 Muslims surrounded the home of a local Ahmadiyah leader.

The clash broke out when about 20 sect members gathered there refused to stop their activities.

Local police chief Alex Rasyad said about 20 followers of the Ahmadiyah sect were gathering, and the crowd wanted them to leave. When they refused, the two sides fought with stones and machetes.

At least five people were seriously injured.

The police chief also said his officers tried to persuade the Ahmadis to leave the house.

Islamic hardliners in Indonesia have launched a sometimes violent anti-Ahmadiyah campaign in recent months.

The religious minister has called for the dissolution of the sect, mainly because of their belief that their founder, and not Muhammad, was the last prophet.

Responding to the attack, Indonesia's minister for security said he had issued instructions to prevent future conflicts.

He reminded members of the Ahmadiyah of a three-year-old governmental decree which threatens them with a jail term if they continue spreading their beliefs.

The government stopped short of banning the sect.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population but it is a secular country. But in recent years, hardline Muslim fringe groups have grown ever more vocal.

The government has been accused of caving into their demands since it relies on the support of Islamic parties.

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