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Houses torched, hundreds homeless near site of Indonesia's new capital

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JAKARTA (Reuters) – A clash between two Indonesian communities reignited near the site of the Southeast Asian country’s planned new capital, police said on Thursday, with rioters burning down scores of houses, leaving hundreds homeless.

At least 158 houses, a school and other public facilities were torched in the North Penajam Paser area of East Kalimantan province on Wednesday, Nurlaila, an official at the disaster agency, was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.

The attacks came a week after two communities clashed on a nearby beach, during which a man was stabbed to death and another seriously wounded, East Kalimantan police spokesman Ade Yaya Suryana told broadcaster Metro TV.

The reason for the clash was not immediately clear.

The suspected killer was arrested, as were three others for possession of sharp weapons, Suryana said.

A mob of about 100 people came looking for those responsible for the death, before setting the buildings on fire, Suryana said.

“We explained that we had arrested (the suspects), but eventually the riot, or the arson, happened,” he said.

The violence took place about 40 km (25 miles) from the site of the country’s new capital but was not believed to be related to land clearances.

Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo, was the scene of a deadly conflict between two ethnic groups in the early 2000s. There had been no reports of violent clashes in the area in recent years.

(Reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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