ON A Thursday morning last year, Sapari, a cemetery caretaker in Bonasari in East Java, made a disturbing discovery.
Underneath the frangipani trees that stand as sentinels over the graves, he found neatly dug holes. Graves had been robbed.
And on closer examination, the 60-year-old discovered the thieves had a particular target. Fifteen places of burial had been pilfered, all of them for children. Their remains had vanished.
''Everyone was very worried when they found out,'' Sapari said. ''The families were very upset.''
The villagers hatched a plan to stake out the cemetery the following night to catch the perpetrators red-handed if they returned.
But the plot never played out. Word had got around and by afternoon the police had set up a crime scene and TV crews and journalists had descended on Bonasari.
It turned out that Bonasari was not the only victim of the corpse-stealers. Two other burial grounds had been robbed. In all, the graves of 24 children had been exhumed on the same night in a co-ordinated action.
Police have yet to make an arrest and the investigation continues, but few are in doubt about the motivation of the grave robbers.
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