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ICC Note: Muslims and Christians continue to be angry with each other after the executions.

Attacks and Assaults in Poso, Government Sending in Hundreds of Additional Police officers

by Benteng Reges

10/2/06 Indonesia (AsiaNews) – During this week-end in Poso (Central Sulawesi province) civilians were assaulted, bombs were thrown at churches and hundreds of police officers were sent in to prevent the sectarian conflict from reigniting following the recent execution of three Catholic men. Back in 1991-2001 the same conflict had seen bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians.

In town residents were shut up in their homes and commercial activity was at a standstill as merchants kept their stores closed because of a series of attacks on September 29 to October 1.

About 20 men wearing black masks yesterday blocked a road in the city, stopped a bus and forced five passengers to get out, intimidating them and stabbing one before police arrived. The victim, a Christian, was admitted to hospital in serious conditions with back wounds.

On Saturday, the city saw a series of bomb attacks; among the targets, a Protestant church under construction and a school. No one was injured.

Security forces also came under attack. On Friday, a group of Christians in East Pamona, Poso regency, attacked Central Sulawesi Police Chief Senior Superintendent Badrotin Haiti who was visiting the local police headquarters.

For local Christians, Chief Haiti is considered to be one of the main culprits in the death of Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwa and Dominggus Da Silva, who were executed in Palu on September 22 despite international criticism. The trio’s trial, which led to their conviction as heads of a Christian militia active during the 2000 Poso clashes, was highly irregular and subjected to pressures from Muslim extremists.

In the wake of the recent incidents, the central government is sending in an additional 400 police officers to boost the already strengthened security force present in the area to keep things under control should violence break out as a result of the executions.

Security forces are deployed across and just outside Poso in strategic locations.

According to some political analysts, Poso has not seen the end of the ongoing conflict because “some dirty hands are still playing their cards.”

Central Sulawesi Governor HB Paliudju agrees. At the end of a meeting with top local government officials including from both the military and police force, he said that the “same provocateurs [of 2000] are now playing their games again”.

Asia News