Indonesian students riot over bill to let military declare martial law


JAKARTA, Indonesia -- While calm returned to Indonesia's capital yesterday after riots against the military left at least six people dead, students took to the streets of another large Indonesian city, hurling burning tires and rocks at soldiers and the police to protest a proposed law that would grant the army sweeping new powers.

There were no immediate reports of injuries as a result of the riots yesterday in Medan, a city of 1.2 million on the island of Sumatra. But Indonesian news agencies reported fierce street clashes between nearly 2,000 student demonstrators and a joint force of soldiers and the police.

The new riots suggested that President B. J. Habibie had not satisfied many of his critics when he announced Friday that he would delay signing the unpopular security law.

The law, hurriedly adopted by Parliament last week, would give new authority to this nation's increasingly unpopular military commanders to declare martial law and suspend civil rights during so-called national emergencies.

The students in Medan were quoted yesterday as saying that Parliament should revoke the law.

The military, which is widely seen by Indonesians as brutal and corrupt, has blackened its image most recently in East Timor, backing widespread violence by anti-independence militias.

In Jakarta yesterday, the military apologized for an episode on Friday in which at least two people were killed in street riots.

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