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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Violence rocks Sulawesi truce
Officials carry the body of Lorenzo Tadey, an Italian tourist killed on 9 August 2002
It was the second fatal incident in a week
Gunmen have shot dead at least five people in raids on two Christian villages on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

The attacks came just hours after Christian and Muslim leaders reaffirmed their support for a nine-month-old truce in the troubled region of Poso.


This is a terrorist act - there's a certain group trying to provoke the situation

Church leader Noldy Tako

Though Christian groups said they accepted local Muslims were not involved in the murders, they said there were still people trying to foment sectarian hatred.

Hundreds of people were killed in two years of religious clashes on Sulawesi before the peace deal was agreed last December.

The latest attacks also saw homes burnt down in Poso, about 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) north-east of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

It followed a separate incident on Friday when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus in the region, killing an Italian tourist and wounding four other passengers.

A police officer - one of 3,000 security personnel now stationed in the Poso area - has also gone missing as the tension continued to rise.

Muslim denials

Noldy Tako of the non-governmental Christian Crisis Centre in Poso said: "Muslim groups claimed they had nothing to do with the attacks.

"This is a terrorist act. There's a certain group trying to provoke the situation in Poso."

Officials carry the body of Lorenzo Tadey
He said police were partly to blame for the increased tension, saying that they had intimidated villagers on Sunday night while searching for their missing colleague.

"They accused the villagers of being responsible for the missing trooper. They fired at homes and churches," he said.

Police officials denied there had been any intimidation.

Indonesia's Welfare Minister Jusuf Kalla had been in the region for two days of talks with community leaders aimed at defusing lingering tensions and shoring up the ceasefire he brokered last year.

He told the Reuters news agency recently that he believed the worst of the violence was over, but there were still factions intent on causing trouble.

More than 80% of Indonesians are Muslim. But in certain parts of the country, such as central Sulawesi, the number of Christians matches that of the Muslims.



See also:

20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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