» 10/23/2012, 00.00
Anti-Christian violence: extremists set fire to Protestant church in Poso
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.
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
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.
Bomb targets Hindu temple in Indonesia
The homemade bomb injured the watchman of the religious building in Poso. Police maintain that the perpetrator wanted to create panic and terror in the region, already a battleground between Christians and Muslims.
Jakarta sending troops to Poso to start reconstruction
The decision is made after vice president meets local religious leaders. Three main goals are set: economic recovery, law enforcement and investigation in local deaths.
Another young woman murdered in central Sulawesi
Poso violence spreads to Palu. A 22-year-old woman, Yanti, and her two friends on a motorcycle are attacked by three men, one of whom wielded a machete to kill.
Men who beheaded three Christian schoolgirls were preparing a hundred more decapitations in Sulawesi
Hasanuddin, the first man to go on trial, masterminded the gruesome crime and now faces the death penalty. In addition to three schoolgirls, he ordered his men to behead at least a hundred Christians in Poso as an act of revenge for Muslims killed in the 1999-2001 sectarian violence.
Indonesians against the instigators of violence
Despite the beheading of three girls in Poso, on the eve of Eid ul-Fitr people want peace, not vengeance from the Sulawesi to the Maluku Islands. Religious leaders call for brotherhood during the celebrations for the end of Ramadan.
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The event will be held to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. A title with many meanings: the Cross is red from the blood of the martyrs; From attempts to suffocate the faith with state control; Bceause of the contribution of hope that Christianity gives to a population tired of materialism and consumerism that is seeking new moral criteria. The theme is also about the great and unexpected religious rebirth in the country. Guests to include: Card. Pietro Parolin, Msgr. Savio Hon, the sociologist of religions Richard Madsen, the testimonies of Chinese priests and laity.
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