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Christian pastor shot dead in Sulawesi PALU - An unidentified gunman shot dead a Christian pastor on Monday in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, officials and church groups said, sparking fears of a return to sectarian fighting that once gripped the region. Reverend Irianto Kongkoli was shot in the head when he was buying construction materials at a shop in the provincial capital of Palu, 1,650 km (1,030 miles) northeast of Jakarta, the Central Sulawesi government said.

"He had finished bargaining for some tiles when someone called him back into the store. When he entered, two shots were fired at the back of his head," said Jethan Towakit, head of the province's information bureau. Central Sulawesi has been tense since the executions last month of three Christian militants over their role in Muslim-Christian violence that gripped the province's Poso region from 1998 to 2001. Small bombs have sporadically exploded in Poso since the executions although most of them have caused no damage or injuries.

"There is always something disturbing our province. Bombings are like breakfast for us. The blasts have been small and the other day it was only a dud but this problem needs to be dealt with," Towakit told Reuters by telephone from Palu. Central Sulawesi governor Bandjela Paliudju told reporters at the parliament that the killing might have been connected to Kongkoli's activism in protests against the executions.

The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), the country's leading umbrella group for Protestants, urged the government to thoroughly investigate the murder. "PGI regrets such an incident could occur many times without comprehensive solution. Such incidents indicate the government is not yet able to protect citizens," the group said in a statement.

It also called religious leaders in Central Sulawesi to avoid "getting trapped into efforts to pit religious groups against each other". The three Christian militants were executed on September 22 by a police firing squad despite appeals from Pope Benedict and rights groups.

About 800 extra police and troops have been sent to Poso town due to the latest inter-religious tensions. Two Muslim men were killed last month by a crowd angered by the executions. The latest shooting has prompted police to guard routes linking Muslim and Christian neighborhoods in Poso. Three years of sectarian clashes in Central Sulawesi killed more than 2,000 people before a peace accord took effect in late 2001. There has been sporadic violence ever since.


Link to related event Related event:
Central Sulawesi conflict


Posted in C. Sulawesi conflict @ 16 October 2006 14:34 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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