October 15, 2015 / 5:38 AM / 4 years ago

Indonesia deploys troops to calm religious unrest in Aceh province

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia deployed security personnel on Thursday to calm unrest in its northern Aceh province after a mob burnt down churches and killed one person in religious violence this week.

Residents look on as a policeman stands guard in Suka Makmur village in Singkil district, Indonesia Aceh province, October 14, 2015 in this picture taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Moonstar Simanjuntak/Antara Foto

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, the majority of which practices a moderate form of Islam. Aceh is the most conservative province in the country and the only one to abide by Islamic Sharia law.

“The situation in Aceh Singkil is calm now and under control,” national police spokesman Agus Rianto told Reuters by telephone, referring to the district where the attack took place.

“We are carrying out patrols in the area with the help of military troops,” Rianto added, declining to comment on the total number of personnel that had been deployed.

Provincial police chief Husein Hamidi said 10 people had been detained on suspicion of inciting violence.

“We plan on facilitating the return of those who had fled because conditions are safe now,” Hamidi told reporters.

Police had earlier denied reports that thousands of people had fled to neighboring villages in the wake of the attack on Tuesday.

President Joko Widodo called for a stop to the violence on Wednesday.

“Violence motivated by anything, especially religion and belief, damages diversity,” Widodo said on microblogging website Twitter.

Aceh was granted special regional autonomy as part of a 2005 peace agreement ending a three-decade old separatist insurgency, which allowed it to implement Sharia law, putting it at odds with the rest of the country.

Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor in JAKARTA; Editing by Michael Perry

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