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Violence over Indonesian ringtone, houses burnt

Indonesian police said they had arrested three men today after two Melanesian tribes clashed with machetes and arrows over a mobile phone ringtone.

world Updated: Nov 18, 2010 16:21 IST

Indonesian police said they had arrested three men on Thursday after two Melanesian tribes clashed with machetes and arrows over a mobile phone ringtone.

Hundreds of Wamena tribesmen descended on members of the Yoka tribe on Wednesday morning in the Papua provincial capital Jayapura, after learning that Yokas were sharing a ringtone which insulted Wamenas.

The ensuing clash reportedly left 23 houses burned to the ground, another 56 damaged and 12 vehicles set ablaze. Police said no one was injured.

"We deployed dozens of police to ensure security in the city. The situation has improved after we arrested three men for allegedly composing the ringtone," Jayapura police chief Iman Setiawan told AFP.

The ringtone had a reggae beat and offensive lyrics about the neighbouring Wamena tribe, he said.

"The lyrics were considered humiliating and insulting to the Wamenas, so that triggered a spontaneous reaction," he added.

Papuan tribal groups engage in elaborate war rituals to resolve disputes, often involving arrows, spears and homemade guns.