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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
Gunmen attack Indonesian church
A priest has been killed and four others wounded during an attack inside a Christian church in Indonesia.

Police said gunmen entered the Effata church in Palu, in Central Sulawesi province, on Sunday evening.

The female priest, 29-year old Reverend Susianti Tinulele, died at the scene after preaching a sermon. One of the wounded is in a critical condition.

At least 1,000 people have been killed in Muslim-Christian unrest in the province over the past five years.

The shooting happened near the town of Poso, which has seen some of the worst religious violence in recent years.

Muslim gang members carry makeshift rifles as Christian homes burn in sectarian violence-wracked Poso, December 2001

Tinulele had just finished speaking when the gunmen attacked the church, according to worshipper Rudi Pesik.

"The gunmen sprayed bullets around the church. Everyone panicked," he told the Associated Press news agency.

"I dropped to the floor and prayed that my wife and I wouldn't be hit," he said.

It is so far unclear who was behind the attack but police spokesman Victor Batara said the gunmen "clearly want to disturb security as it has been relatively safe recently".

The national police chief, D'ai Bachtiar, flew to Palu earlier on Monday to oversee an investigation into the attack, according to local police sources.

In Jakarta, Chief Security Minister Hari Subarno said the incident was designed "to create a horizontal conflict" - conflict between different sectors of society.

Ongoing violence

This is the fifth attack on Christians in Central Sulawesi this year - including an attack in April which injured seven people in a church near Poso.

The violence between Christians and Muslims began in 1998, with some analysts claiming it was caused by fighting in the neighbouring Moluccan islands spilling over into Sulawesi.

Others say it was a consequence of the influx of Muslim migrants from Java in a controversial transmigration programme.

A report in February by the International Crisis Group said some members of the militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI), which has been blamed for the 2002 Bali bombing, were also pursuing their goal of establishing an Indonesian Islamic state in Indonesia.

About 85% of Indonesians are Muslims - but in some eastern parts, such as Poso and Palu, Christian and Muslim populations are about equal in size.




SEE ALSO:
Gunmen attack Indonesian church
11 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia flashpoints: Sulawesi
28 Jun 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Four die in Indonesia cafe blast
10 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Sulawesi alert over fresh violence
17 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Eight die in Sulawesi attacks
12 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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