Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Terrorism behind murder of Pastor in Poso

National police said the murderers of Reverend Kongkoli could be linked to a terrorist group already suspected of beheading Christian girls in 2005. This group is connected to Jemaah Islamiyah.

Palu (AsiaNews.it) – Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered security forces to thoroughly investigate the killing of a Protestant pastor in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on 16 October. Meanwhile, after initial investigations, police believe the perpetrators of the crime could be members of a terrorist group already suspected of beheading young Christian girls last year. The group is linked the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network that in turn is held to be close to Al-Qaeda.
A presidential spokesman said Susilo had asked the competent authorities to “to seriously tackle the case of Rev. Irianto Kongkoli, and to uncover the perpetrators so that they can be brought to justice and punished.”
The 40-year-old reverend, chairman of the Central Sulawesi Churches of Synod (GKST), was killed by a bullet in the nape of his neck on Monday as he stood at the entrance of a shop in Palu. Tension has gripped the city since the execution of three Catholics on 22 September for their alleged role in bloody sectarian clashes that took place in 2000 in Poso, in the same province.
Yesterday, the national police chief General Sutanto said interrogation of witnesses and investigations into the crime were still under way. Police spokesman, Bambang Kuncoko, said that based on how the murder was carried out, "we suspect the killers are from the same group that has carried out recent bombings and mutilations" in the area. He was referring to the beheading of Christian girls and a series of low-level bombings last year. According to what journalists were told later in the day, the police believe the group of Hasanuddin could be involved. Hasanuddin is currently detained in Jakarta for the beheading of the young Christian students. He is known to be a member of JI, a terror network operative in South-east Asia.

For more on Hasanuddin's gang "Link between Poso and JI unclear"

The police of Central Sulawesi speculated that the motive for the murder could be to ignite religious sentiments in the province in order to create tension between Muslim and Christian communities. From 1999 to 2001, interfaith violence claimed more than 2,000 lives in Poso and Palu.
Meanwhile, several local churches flew their flags at half-mast in a show of mourning. Rev. Kongkoli will be buried this afternoon or at the latest, tomorrow, 19 October, in a Christian cemetery in the Talise subdistrict, Palu.

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