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Church set ablaze amid religious tensions POSO - A church was set on fire Tuesday in a central Indonesian region plagued by sectarian violence since last month's executions of three Roman Catholic militants, police said. No one was injured in the blaze. The arson attack in the town of Poso on Sulawesi island apparently followed rumors that an Islamic school had been torched, said police spokesman Lt. Col. Muhammad Kilat, urging residents to be on alert for "a campaign to fuel unrest."

An investigation was being carried out, he said, adding that "arsonists were behind the Eklesia church blaze." Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, with 90 percent of its 220 million people practicing the faith, but large section of Sulawesi have roughly equal number of Christians and Muslims. Poso was the center of hostilities between the two religions in 1998-2002, when more than 1,000 people died.

Violence flared anew following the Sept. 22 executions of three Christian men convicted of leading a militia that carried out a 2000 attack on an Islamic school, killing at least 70 people seeking shelter. Critics say the Christians did not get a fair trial and questioned the role religion played in their sentencing, noting that few Muslims were punished for four years of bloodshed, and none to more than 15 years in jail.

Mobs in Sulawesi have killed two Muslim traders and a Christian priest in recent weeks, and there have been at least seven bomb blasts, most targeting empty buildings. Security forces opened fire on a gang of rock-wielding Muslim youths in Poso over the weekend, killing one after they went on a rampage, torching police vehicles and homes.

Islamic leaders protested the slaying Tuesday, and demanded that national troops withdraw from the area, threatening to disrupt the activities of the local government, markets and people's lives if they refused. "We will paralyze activities in Poso," said Sugiyanto Kaimudin, a representative of a Muslim association, though he provided no details.

National police chief General Sutanto told reporters in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, that his men had acted in self-defense and said they were needed in Sulawesi to maintain order.


Link to related event Related event:
Central Sulawesi conflict

Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict') Related blog entries (category 'C. Sulawesi conflict'):
21 October 2006 · Indonesia says violence in Sulawesi is terrorism
18 October 2006 · President asks to take immediate steps in Poso
16 October 2006 · Christian pastor shot dead in Sulawesi
09 October 2006 · Police arrest 14 Christians over killings of Muslims
01 October 2006 · Muslim mob stabs Christian as tensions rise in Sulawesi


Posted in C. Sulawesi conflict @ 24 October 2006 17:35 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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