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Indonesia : Islamist insurgency on Poso erupts again

by Adrian Morgan

ICC Note: Here is a recap of what has been happening in Indonesia over the last year. And what is currently happening.

1/23/07 Indonesia For full story….(Spero News)The situation in Poso, Central Sulawesi has grown critical again over the last two weeks. Poso was the scene of some of the worst Muslim/Christian sectarian violence in the Moluccan War, which lasted from 1998 to 2002. This conflict caused the deaths of 9,000 people, most of them Christians. In Central Sulawesi , the conflict killed 1,000.

Last year, there was renewed violence during September and October, which coincided with the death by firing squad of three Catholics, who were accused of being involved in the murder of Muslims in Poso in May 2000. The three, Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42 had received scant justice, and though the crimes of Muslims accused of killing Christians were more extensive, no Muslim had received more than 15 year jail sentences. The Catholics were shot at Palu airport on September 22.

The conflict on Poso following the September/October civil unrest was kept under control by a strong military presence in the region. On December 6, two explosions took place at the gate of Sintuwu soccer field, while police were hunting 25 of 29 Islamic fugitives whose names had been placed on a list in October last year.

It appears that as the unrest of September/October was linked to the executions of the three Christians, there may be a connection with the current trial of three Islamists who decapitated three Christian schoolgirls and mutilated a fourth on October 29, 2005. This trial began in early November 2006.

In a written statement, Purnomo also admitted to the murder of 29-year old Susianti Tinulele on July 18 2004. Ms Tinulele was a reverend at the presbyterian Effata Church in Palu, the capital city of Central SUlawesi province. She was shot several times by a gunman as she conducted a service. Four of her parishioners were also shot in the attack.

On January 11, police raided the home of one of 29 Islamist suspects who are accused of making violent attacks upon Christians. During this raid at Gebang Rejo sub-district, two civilians were shot dead. One of these was a suspect called Rian, but the other was an innocent teacher. Fie people were arrested. After the incident, a policeman was killed. There was a battle between police and Muslims who inhabited the Islamic boarding school in Tanah Runtuh.

With a rise in violent incidents in Poso, the military announced on Thursday, January 18, that it would be willing to assist police in containing the violence. The chief of the National Defense Force, Marshal Djoko Suyanto said: “We are ready anytime to assist upon request… There must be stern measures. The rule banning civilians from carrying firearms, either handguns or rifles, must be upheld.”

On the morning of Friday January 19, a bomb went off at 9.30 am behind the PT Bank Sulteng in Gebang Rejo subdistrict of Poso . This location was 100 yards from the Poso subregional police station. Gebang Rejo is the subdistrict in which the Christian schoolgirls were decapitated in October 2005.

On Sunday night, three more explosions went off in Poso district, but no-one was injured. Anton Bachrul Alam, a police spokesman, said that 19 of the 29 suspects were still at large. A raid on Sunday (Jan 21) found seven working bombs and seven kilogras of calcium chlorate during a raid in Poso. The explosive material was said to belong to Muslim militants.

A raid took place in Tanah Runtuh, a mainly Muslim region of Poso. 18 Islamic militants were arrested, and explosives and weaponry were recovered. These included 170 detonators, tens of homemade bombs and guns and ammunition. One policeman was killed in the raid. Schools, offices and stores in the subdistrict closed down following the incident.

Adjunct Senior Commisioner Muhammad Kilar, a spokesman for Poso police said that following the arrests today, 28 of the 29 people on their “wanted” list have now been accounted for. Badrodin Haiti , the Central Sulawesi police chief, said that two innocent civilians had been injured in the raid. He said: “Most of the dead civilians are on the police’s list of wanted persons.”