Tuesday, October 17, 2006

BIN warns of more Sulawesi unrest

(Jakarta Post) The State Intelligence Agency (BIN) warned of more attacks during Idul Fitri celebrations in religiously-divided Central Sulawesi after a Christian pastor was shot dead in the provincial capital of Palu.
The assassination of Rev. Irianto Kongkoli, secretary general of the South Sulawesi Christian Church, was linked to efforts to revive the bloody conflict in the province, BIN chief Syamsir Siregar said.
"We have to boost the security system in rural and urban areas (in Central Sulawesi), as we are informed that some groups are planning to instigate riots during Idul Fitri," he said, without elaborating.
Irianto, 40, was shot dead by masked gunmen at 8:15 a.m. while he was shopping with his wife in Palu.
Central Sulawesi Governor H.B. Paliudju, speaking in Jakarta, said the shooting was likely connected to the Sept. 22 execution of three Christian militants, Fabianus Tibo, Marinus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva, for leading a deadly attack on a Muslim village in 2000.
"I saw him (Irianto) attending Tibo's trial. He and Rev. Damanik led people to protest the executions. There is a red thread linking the case to the executions," he said.
Irianto was the third victim of deadly violence in the province after the executions. Two Muslims were killed by an angry mob a day after the executions.
However, Syamsir insisted that the murder of the pastor was related to the previous conflict between Muslims and Christians in Central Sulawesi.
He said "Ramadhan and Idul Fitri are a sensitive period and (any act of violence) could give rise to (a renewal of the conflict)" that raged in the region in 2000 and 2001, killing some 1,000 people.
He accused parties unhappy with the resolution to end the fighting of attempting to reignite tensions in the province.
"They may also have certain targets," Syamsir said.
National Police chief Gen. Sutanto urged the public to wait for the results of an investigation into the murder. "We don't know yet the motives behind the incident," he said.
South Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Badrodin Haiti said the gunmen who assassinated the pastor had been identified along with their motorcycle. "It is likely that the victim was followed from his house," he said.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adisucipto said the situation in Central Sulawesi remained under control despite the incident and that the government had no plans to deploy more security troops to the province.
Human rights groups urged the government to form an independent fact-finding team to deal with cases of violence in the province. "The people have lost their trust in the government," Indonesian Legal Aid Institute director Patra M. Zen said.
The Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) condemned the slaying of the pastor and urged religious leaders in the conflict-torn region to avoid provocation and keep their followers calm over the incident.
"We convey our deepest remorse and regret over the shooting of Rev. Irianto Kongkoli," the PGI said in a statement.
It blamed the government for failing to protect its citizens. "We urge the government to tackle the fundamental problems in Central Sulawesi and tighten the security there to prevent more violence," the communion said.
Irianto was known for his close relationships with Muslim leaders in Palu. He was involved in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict, while often staunchly criticizing the poor performance of security forces in the province.
Hundreds of Christians and Muslims along with local government officials visited Irianto's house to express condolences on his death.

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