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Ireland On-Line – Five men were being questioned today in connection with the beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls in an Indonesian province that has long been plagued by sectarian violence, police said.

The five – a retired soldier, two hospital security guards and two other civilians – have not officially been declared suspects in the October 29 killings outside the town of Poso , said Col Oegroseno, the police chief in Central Sulawesi province. But there were indications that they may have been involved, he said, without identifying a possible motive or their religious backgrounds.

More than 1,500 soldiers and police have been patrolling Poso since six assailants wearing black veils beheaded the three Christian teens as they headed to school. A fourth girl was seriously wounded in the attack.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslim and Christians.

The province was the scene of a bloody sectarian war in 2001-2002 that killed around 1,000 people from both communities.

There have been several other bombings and killings in the area in recent years, including a market attack in Poso last May that killed 22 people, most of them Christians.

A detective in Poso said the five men being questioned were arrested in their homes in Poso yesterday.

Ten high-ranking national police officials were involved in the interrogations at the Central Sulawesi military headquarters, he said.