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AsiaNews (01/11/06) – A fire, probably arson, destroyed five public buildings in Poso last night. The fire, ignited at around one o’clock in the morning, followed a minor explosion outside the Church of Sion in the heart of Poso.

The fires, which struck the neighbourhood where government buildings are situated, destroyed the offices of Social and People’s Welfare, the Treasury of Poso Regency, Internal Affairs, Fishing and Maritime, and Health.

A few hours earlier, Poso had seen crossfire between soldiers and police, provoked, according to local security authorities, by a “misunderstanding” between low grade officials.

The Security Commander of Central Sulawesi , General Paul Purwoko, a Catholic and also national police spokesman, said this evening that he is investigating the fires; so far, the motive that triggered the fires – extinguished with difficulty after three hours – remains a mystery. “We have not yet the clue to say whether or not the five buildings were purposely burnt,” he said.

In Poso itself, many have speculated about the fire, ignited after the clash between the soldiers and police and the Sion Church blast.

Residents and others have their suspicions, especially after another explosion this morning outside the Office for Conflict Resolution of Poso. All police have said is that the blast went off at 8.30 am local time (9.30 in Jakarta ). A witness said he had seen two strangers throw something at the building. Although artillery personnel said it was only a firecracker, the event had the residents asking questions.