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Cops and protesters clash for third day over Indonesia's new jobs law

JAKARTA: Police and demonstrators clashed in the Indonesian capital yesterday on the third day of protests and labour strikes against a polarising new jobs law.

Demonstrators gathered near the presidential palace in central Jakarta, shouting and throwing stones. Police fired tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to disperse the crowd, Reuters witnesses said.

Hundreds were arrested.

The "omnibus" jobs creation bill, passed into law on Monday, has seen thousands of people across the world's fourth-most populous nation take to the streets in protest against legislation they say undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections.

"We ask that the law be repealed immediately," said Mr Maulana Syarif, 45, who has worked at Astra Honda motors for 25 years.

"This is our struggle for our children and grandchildren, and our future generations... If it's like this our well-being will decrease, and we will lack job certainty."

Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said more than 400 people - mostly teenagers - had been arrested in the past two days.

He accused them of provoking unrest during the protests.

"We are now questioning them," Mr Yusri said yesterday, adding that the situation in Jakarta was "under control".

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At least two students who joined the demonstrations have been hospitalised with head injuries, and six police officers have been injured.

Yesterday's protests occurred in almost a dozen cities across the country.

Black smoke rose across the capital yesterday afternoon as protesters burned public transport facilities and damaged police posts. - REUTERS, AFP

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