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Govt boosts security after girls beheaded JAKARTA - Police beefed up security patrols on Sunday in the Poso area, plagued by sectarian violence for years, after mysterious assailants in black beheaded three teenage Christian girls. Six machete-wielding men attacked the 16 to 19-year-old students as they were walking to their school on Saturday on Indonesia's eastern island of Sulawesi, police said.

Police official Made Rai said about 1,000 police, including reinforcements from other parts of the country, were securing the remote regency of Poso, with more than 300 additional officers expected to arrive on Sunday. "We are still investigating. So far no witness has been questioned and no suspect arrested," Rai told Reuters by telephone from Poso, about 1,500 km northeast of capital Jakarta. One student survived and had described the attack.

Muslim-Christian clashes in the Poso area killed 2,000 people from 1998 through 2001, when a peace deal was agreed. While the worst violence abated after the deal, there have been sporadic outbreaks since. Bombings in May in the Christian town of Tentena killed 22 people. The three headless bodies of the girls, dressed in brown uniforms, were left at the site of the attack. Their heads were found at separate locations two hours later by residents.

Din Syamsuddin, leader of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim group Muhammadiyah, warned of more violence in Poso if police do not catch the perpetrators soon. "Similar murders are likely to occur in the future because there are some parties wishing communal conflict to flare up," Din Syamsuddin was quoted as saying by Indonesia's official news agency Antara. On Sunday reports of the killings were featured across the front pages of virtually all Indonesian newspapers.

Leading daily Media Indonesia splashed a headline across its front page saying "Barbaric!" and the Muslim-oriented Republika daily devoted its full front page to the incident. On Sunday television news showed wailing and distraught relatives of the dead students looking at their bodies in coffins. The girls' bodies, their heads re-attached, were in flowing white gowns, their hands holding bouquets.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has condemned the killings, which he described as "sadist and inhuman crimes". About 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim. But in some eastern parts, Christian and Muslim populations are about equal. Most Indonesian Muslims are moderates, but there has been an increasingly active militant minority in recent years.

Religious and communal tensions in areas like Poso have been aggravated by a transmigration policy in which for decades large numbers of people from Indonesia's most crowded areas like Java, mostly Muslim, moved to places that had been largely Christian. In addition to religion the newcomers often have cultural and language differences with locals. Politicians and security forces have sometimes been charged with exploiting the differences for their own ends, adding to the potential for violence.


Link to related event Related event:
Central Sulawesi conflict

Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict') Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict'):
29 October 2005 · Three Christian schoolgirls beheaded in C. Sulawesi
27 October 2005 · 20 arrested in raid on sect in Palu
26 October 2005 · Four dead in police clash with sect in Sulawesi
18 September 2005 · Blast rocks troubled Sulawesi province
02 June 2005 · More suspects held over Tentena bombings


Posted in C. Sulawesi conflict @ 30 October 2005 08:26 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





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