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(ANS) – A congregation of the Presbyterian Christian Church of Central Sulawesi (GKST) is preparing for a service without one of its preachers after she was shot dead while speaking from the pulpit in an attack that also critically injured a teenage church member, ASSIST News Service (ANS) monitored. Rev. Susianty Tinulele, 26, of the GKST-member Efatah Church in Palu, the regional capital, was assassinated last Sunday, July 18, by “four masked men”, who arrived by motorbikes and “opened fire with machine guns on the preacher and worship team.”
In addition a 17-year old church member, Desrianti Tengkede, “was shot through her right eye,” and doctors fought for her life, CSW claimed. The organization corrected previous reports that the girl had already died saying that “despite this being confirmed by several sources” she “was in fact in a coma”, and “currently in critical condition in intensive care” in a hospital in Surabaya. “CSW asks supporters to join with us in praying for Desrianti,” it said in a statement to ANS.Ten other worshippers were listed as injured, including at least three seriously wounded teenagers who were reportedly rushed to hospital. Barnabas Fund said there were indications that militants wanted to punish Rev. Susianty as “she had taken food to GKST pastor Rinaldy Damanik in prison two days before” her death. “Her support for him may be one reason why she was targeted.” Damanik is the head of the Crisis Centre of Central Sulawesi and was arrested in August 2002 and sentenced to three years in prison in 2003 on trumped up arms charges, CSW added. CSW said he was arrested “in a bid to stop him speaking out on human rights abuses in Central Sulawesi .” Rev. Susianty is the latest victim of what appears to be a campaign to assassinate Christian leaders in Central Sulawesi which began in November 2003, human rights watchers say. Central Sulawesi ‘s police chief, Brig. Gen. Taufik Ridha, was quoted as saying that the campaign to kill prominent Christian figures “may be an attempt to disrupt this year’s elections in Indonesia .”