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» 10/23/2012
INDONESIA
Anti-Christian violence: extremists set fire to Protestant church in Poso
by Mathias Hariyadi
An unidentified group set fire to the Madele Pentecostal Church. Quick action by Church members as well as some Muslims brought the blaze under control, limiting the damages. In another incident, blasts wounded three people, including two police agents. Sectarian tensions raise fears.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The city of Poso, in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, has been the scene of renewed sectarian violence against the local Protestant minority. Overnight on Sunday, unknown assailants set fire to the Madele Pentecostal Church. The quick intervention of the congregation stopped the fire from spreading and spared the building from serious damages. The anti-Christian attack "occurred last night around midnight," Poso Police Chief Eko Santoso said, confirming the sectarian nature of the incident. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, but Poso Regency (District) has a large Christian community. It saw bloody clashes that left thousands of people dead on both sides until a peace deal was struck in 2002.

The fire started when a collection box was doused with petrol and then set alight. Flames eventually spread to the pastor's residence. Only the intervention of the fire department and volunteers prevented the blaze from causing major damages to the two buildings. Rev Aben thanked villagers, including "some Muslims," who came to rescue, playing a decisive role in preventing the fire from spreading.

Yesterday, two car bombs also exploded near a police traffic post, wounding three people, including two police agents on duty at the time. Investigators believe the post was the target.

"The terrorist group used a sophisticated device in which they detonated the bomb remotely through a mobile handset," one agent said.

In recent weeks, Poso has been the scene of renewed sectarian violence. The port city has seen attacks against Christian-owned buildings, including places of worship.

Two law enforcement agents have also been murdered under mysterious circumstances. They went missing whilst investigating a recent attack against a prominent member of the Christian community. Their bodies were found after eight days on the side of a road near a training centre connected to an extremist Muslim group.

Between 1997 and 2001, Christians and Muslims were involved in a violent conflict on Sulawesi Island and neighbouring Maluku Islands. Thousands of people died and hundreds of churches and mosques were destroyed. Thousands of homes were also razed. About half a million people found themselves homeless, 25,000 in Poso alone.

On 20 December 2001, the two sides reached a truce that was signed in Malino, South Sulawesi, following a peace initiative by the government. The local population is evenly split between Christians and Muslims.

Despite the peace deal, terrorist incidents continued on and leaving a trail of innocent victims. One of the most horrific cases, which caused indignation around the world, was the beheading by Muslim extremists in October 2005 of three Christian girls on their way to school.


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See also
03/10/2006 INDONESIA
Bomb targets Hindu temple in Indonesia
10/31/2006 INDONESIA
Jakarta sending troops to Poso to start reconstruction
11/18/2005 INDONESIA
Another young woman murdered in central Sulawesi
by Benteng Reges
11/08/2006 INDONESIA
Men who beheaded three Christian schoolgirls were preparing a hundred more decapitations in Sulawesi
by Benteng Reges
11/03/2005 INDONESIA
Indonesians against the instigators of violence

Editor's choices
ISLAM - MIDDLE EAST
Al Azhar and Vatican against terrorism. The ambiguity of the international community
by Bernardo CervelleraThe influential Sunni university denounces " heinous" violence of the Islamic state and demands the world defeat this group “through every possible means". Vatican: terrorism is a threat to all humanity. France claims to fight terrorism, but then sells weapons, aircraft, helicopter gunships to Saudi Arabia, which supports Islamic fundamentalism. Kuwait tolerates Salafis who support the Nusra Front and the Islamic state. Turkey against the Kurds; the United States against Iran, Russia and China.
TUNISIA - ISLAM
Tunis, stop terrorism by closing fundamentalist mosquesPresident Essebsi believes unified and global strategy needed to counter terrorism. The attack in Sousse almost simultaneous with those in France, Kuwait, Somalia. Islamic State claims responsibility.
VATICAN – ITALY
Pope in Turin tells young people to be chaste in love, go against the flow and not retire at 20In his last meeting on the first day of his visit to Turin, Francis met young people in Vittorio Square. In a Question and Answer exchange, he talked about love, friendship and loss of trust towards life. "I understand you. How many hypocrites speak of peace and sell weapons. How can one trust? By following Christ, whose act of extreme love, i.e. the Cross, saved humanity." The pontiff also looked at the horrors of the 20th century as evidence of the loss of trust towards world powers. He urged young people “not to retire at 20,” but “live, don’t just exist.”

Dossier

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