Monday, October 16, 2006

Reverend gunned down in cold blood in Palu

PALU, Central Sulawesi (AP): An unidentified gunman killed a Christian priest Monday on Sulawesi island, where religious tensions have been mounting since last month's executions of three Roman Catholic militants, officials said.
National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto said he ordered an investigation into the death of Rev. Irianto Kongkoli, who was shot in the head while visiting a shop with his wife in Palu, the provincial capital of Central Sulawesi.
"We need to make sure such killings do not happen again," he told reporters in the capital Jakarta.
Central Sulawesi Police Chief, Badrudin Haiti, said the shooter, who used a revolver and a 9 mm bullet, sped off on a motorbike with an accomplice.
Indonesia is a secular nation but has the world's largest number of Muslims, with nearly 90 percent of its 220 million people practicing the faith. But Central Sulawesi province, which was the scene of wide-scale sectarian violence several years ago,has a large Christian population.
Tensions have risen since the Sept. 22 executions of three men convicted of leading a Christian militia that carried out a series of attacks in 2000, including a machete and gun assault on an Islamic school that left at least 70 dead.
Human rights groups have questioned the fairness of the trial, with some analysts suggesting that Indonesia bowed to pressurefrom hard-line Muslims in handing down the sentences.
Few Muslims were punished for their part in the unrest, which left 1,000 people of both faiths dead, and none to more than 15 years in jail.
Central Sulawesi Governor Bandjela Paliudju told reporters at the House of Representatives compound in Jakarta he believed the priest's death was linked to last month's executions. There have been several bomb blasts and attacks in recent weeks, with at least two people killed.
"He was an outspoken priest who many times led Christian protests against the executions," Paliudju said.

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