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Poso calm as more troops arrive BANDUNG - Calm returned on Monday to Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, after around 300 paramilitary police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel arrived in the religiously divided town. Residents in the attack-hit villages of Saatu, Pantangolemba and Pinedapa resumed their daily activities. No further violence was reported after Sunday's dawn attacks there by masked gunmen, who killed at least nine people.
Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered intelligence officers to intensify their investigations into the unidentified attackers. "I think the gathered evidence, such as homemade bombs and ammunition, are quite sufficient for the police to start an investigation into the incident," he told press in Jakarta.
"Please, do not hesitate to take stern measures against the perpetrators," he added. He also ordered the Indonesian Military (TNI) to assist the police in restoring security and order in Poso. "The government will send more reinforcement personnel to the regency if deemed necessary." Speaking at the same media briefing, National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Kadaryanto said at least one person was arrested in connection with the renewed attacks, but refused to name the suspect.
Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Taufik Ridha said his officers were hunting the armed men. In an earlier attack last Thursday, three people were killed when unidentified gunmen raided Beteleme, a mainly Christian village in neighboring Morowali regency, and burned 30 homes and a church. The targets of Sunday's attacks were also dominantly Christian villages.
Taufik said the National Police had dispatched intelligence officers and a bomb squad to help uncover the incidents in Poso and Morowali. National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Zainuri Lubis, speaking in Jakarta, said the simultaneous attacks were well planned to destabilize Poso after the December 2001 peace deal. A few hours before the attacks, cellular phone services and intercity phone lines were cut off, he said. As of Monday, the cellular network remained inactive in Poso.
Zainuri said police found nails laid out on the streets linking Moengko and Kayamanya subdistricts in an apparent attempt by the attackers to obstruct the arrival of security forces. The police also found two homemade bombs, dozens of bullets and shells on the scene after the attack, he said.
Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla, who brokered the peace pact, also said the attackers were "well-trained" and able to carry out the attacks quickly, while most of the security forces were focusing on preparations for President Megawati Soekarnoputri's visit to Tomini Bay near Poso. Meanwhile, Vice President Hamzah Haz said the renewed violence indicated that a certain group did not want to see peace restored in Poso.
He asked the police to step up vigilance against such a disturbing group, but he declined to speculate about who might be behind the attacks. "Let's leave this matter to the police to investigate," he said. In Bandung, TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said he believed the fresh violence was not simply a "crime, but (was) politically motivated". Commenting on the findings of munitions produced by Army-owned PT Pindad at the scene, he said it did not necessarily mean the military was involved in the Poso attacks.
"The weapons and ammunition circulating in Indonesia normally belong to TNI. But some of the arms have been confiscated or stolen from us, or there are indeed rogue soldiers who sell their munitions to others," Endiartono said. Local Muslim figure Sulaiman Mamar, who led the Poso peace task force, said it was difficult to believe that local people were involved in the renewed attacks, arguing they had made it clear that they were sick of fighting.
Endiartono said the TNI was ready to support the police and restore security in Poso, if the situation turned for the worse. Separately, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu blamed a "lack of seriousness" in dealing with the Poso conflict for the fresh unrest there. "Police and military officers were pulled out, so this has come to pass. Then we sent and withdrew them, again and again. It shows there is no serious handling, as this has continued for two years," he said in Bandung, West Java.
Both Endiartono and Ryamizard declined to speculate about the attackers and urged the people not to believe reports that pointed to the TNI over the Poso issue.



Posted in C. Sulawesi conflict @ 14 October 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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