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Press Release — August 4, 2002

Jihad Terrorists Strike Again in Poso, Indonesia

by Joko Harmono

(August 4, 2002 – Poso, Indonesia) In the early hours of Sunday morning as the seaside village of Matako, 32 km east of Poso slept peacefully, jihad terrorists struck terror into this Christian community.

The attack began at 3.30 am with cries of “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” as the sleepy night burst into a blaze of fire, bullets and bombs. The attack came from two directions. Some of the jihad terrorists entered through the middle of the village having come down jungle pathways from the mountains while others landed on the beach in speedboats. The attack force was estimated to be between 80-100 men.

Reports from eye-witnesses in the village state that late last night, around 10.00 pm gunshots were heard near the village and the Police Mobile Brigade were called in to investigate, but finding nothing were withdrawn from the village.

As an extra security measure, four villagers were placed on guard duty, including the son of the village chief, Holmes Toea (24), who with his three fellow-guards were still missing late this afternoon.

According to the pastor of the Pentecostal Church (GPdI) Rev. Usu Lassa, the attack on his church came from two directions, the mountains and the coast. He described the sound of the blazing bullets as “a never ending song” that just went on and on. His house was next to the church and he fled in the dark, crawling through the long grass and through a coconut plantation. It was here that Rev. Lassa witnessed his church being set on fire and being bombed, and people in the village being shot at. Only one of his members, Mr. Salmon Toboe (35), was wounded in the attack, being shot in the back as he fled. Fortunately the wound struck no vital organs and he was evacuated to the nearby village of Silanca where the bullet was removed.

Rev. Lassa witnessed six homes of his members being burned down before he was able to escape. He was unsure of how many other homes were destroyed. As daylight began to dawn just after 5.00 am, the jihad attackers made their retreat from the village leaving a pathway of destruction in their wake.

During the attack many of the people in this Christian community made their escape to the local military post where they were protected by about 10 soldiers, who due to staying to protect these fleeing Christians, were unable to enter into the village to pursue the attackers.

According to eye-witnesses, the Presbyterian Church (GKST) was also attacked and damaged, but the exact extent of the damage was still unknown. Five members of their church were shot and wounded, four seriously. The four seriously injured have been transferred to the Tentena Hospital:
Mrs. Wemu Tangali (66) was shot four times through the hip penetrating through to her buttocks. She is still being operated on to have the bullets removed. Her son, Silas Mokeo (26) was shot in the left leg. Mrs. Nona Pedengka (32) received a serious bullet wound in her left arm. Mrs. Netty Toeya (49) and Miss Ulce Doda (20) both received bullet wounds to their right legs.

According to the victims, the jihad warriors entered their homes wearing black ninja outfits and were fully equipped with weapons. They were threatened that they would be killed if they did not immediately vacate the village. Some of the victims were deliberately shot from close range within their homes.

In the meantime, the women, children and the aged have been evacuated to the neighboring village of Silanca, while others have gone further infield to Kawua and Tentena. The men of the village have returned with an increased military presence to protect the village from being left deserted and therefore an easy target for the jihad to raze the rest of the village to the ground.

Over the last several days rumors have been rife that the village of Silanca would be attacked, but despite these rumors there was no increased military protection provided.

Mr. Ferdinand Saerang of the Poso Watch Network appealed saying, “How many more Christian villages have to be razed to the ground, and how many more Christians have to be shot and killed before the government cracks down on these terrorists who with impunity raid, attack and terrorize these innocent communities?”

International Christian Concern is a Washington, DC based human rights organization that advocates on behalf of Christians suffering from unjust persecution.