Thursday, January 18, 2007

Militant says beheadings were for revenge

JAKARTA (AP): A militant who confessed to taking part in the beheadings of three girls on an Indonesian island wracked by religious violence said Wednesday he was motivated by a bloody attack on an Islamic boarding school.

Irwanto Irano - one of three men being tried for the Oct. 29, 2005 beheadings in the Sulawesi town of Poso - told the Central Jakarta District Court he surveyed the area four times before the slayings and reported the girls' habits to the ringleader.

"I was able to take part (in the massacre) because I remembered the uncivilized way in which (Christians) had acted," Irano told judges, pointing to the 2000 machete and gun attack on an Islamic boarding school that left at least 70 people dead.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, with 90 percent of its 220 million people practicing a moderate form of the faith, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslim and Christians.

It was the scene of fierce gunbattles from 1998 to 2002 that left at least 1,000 people from both faiths dead. A peace agreement ended the worst of the violence, but tensions have flared anew in recent years, culminating in the 2005 beheadings of the three Christian girls and the wounding of a fourth.

Irano admitted to taking part in the attack, but said he did not behead anyone himself.

"I just cut into one of the girl's calves, and the others beheaded her," he told the court.

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