Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Poso police to shoot on sight during unrest

Palu, Indonesia (ANTARA News) - Police in the restive Indonesian town of Poso said Tuesday they will shoot on sight anyone carrying weapons, following unrest which erupted after two suspected militants were killed in a police raid.

An angry mob of mourners killed a policeman on Thursday when he inadvertently passed the funeral of a Muslim preacher shot in the raid, which took place earlier that day.

The preacher was a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terrorist group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings and other attacks, the police was quoted by AFP as saying.

Police fired warning shots on Monday when they were attacked by an angry mob, and later that night shots and explosions were reported in the area.

"Following the restive situation in Poso, we announce that anyone owning, keeping or using arms will be shot on sight," local police chief Brigadier General Badrotin Haiti told reporters in Palu before leaving for Poso, 110 kilometres (70 miles) to the southeast.

National police spokesman Sisno Adiwinoto, however, said there were no orders to shoot on sight, adding the situation in Poso was now relatively calm.

"There are several dangerous spots, but businesses are running normally. Schools, traffic, all is normal," he told reporters in Jakarta.

He said police had so far arrested or killed 10 people on a wanted list of 29 suspected of involvement in a series of anti-Christian attacks in religiously-divided Poso district.

Police were hunting for the other 19, he said, adding that more names might be added to the list.

Police had said the 29 were believed to belong to two groups which have been accused of involvement in several violent incidents in Poso since 2001, including the 2005 beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls, inciting mob violence and several bombings of markets and churches.

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