Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Crackdown in Poso before Executions

PALU, Central Sulawesi: Indonesia deployed thousands of police on restive Sulawesi island ahead of Thursday's planned executions of three Christians found guilty of leading deadly attacks on Muslims six years ago.
Amid complaints that the men did not receive a fair trial, a top Christian leader Wednesday urged his community not to resort to violence and to pray that the president would grant them a last-minute reprieve.
Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva were found guilty of leading a Christian militia that launched a series of attacks on Muslims in May 2000 on Sulawesi - including a gun and machete assault that killed at least 70 people who had taken refuge in an Islamic school.
The incident was one of the bloodiest in two years of fighting between Muslim and Christian gangs on the island that killed at least 1,000 people from both faiths.
Christian groups note that only a handful of people have been convicted in the violence, and that Tibo, Riwu and da Silva were the only ones sentenced to death.
"Everyone is angry, including me," said Rinaldy Damanik, the head of Central Sulawesi assembly of churches, as he called on his followers to refrain from violence. "But we hate terrorists, so we cannot behave like them."
The police chief in Poso, scene of the worst fighting in early 2000, said the city was calm.
"But we are prepared to handle any reaction against the executions by deploying about 2,000 police, including a mobile brigade, a bomb squad and an anti-terror unit," said Sr. Comr. Rudy Sufahriyadi

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