01/23/2004, 00.00
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Christian killed and two wounded in Central Sulawesi shoot-out

Jakarta (AsiaNews)  –  Samuel Malatinggi, a 56 year-old Christian and chairman of the Maranatha community, was killed on Wednesday evening, Jan. 21, after receiving a gunshot wound to the head.

The shootout occurred between residents of Maranatha, a village with a Christian majority, and inhabitants of Sidondo, a nearby Muslim village. The crime's weapon was identified as a home-made gun. The corpse was buried the following day, Thursday, Jan. 21, after an autopsy was performed at Undatu General Hospital.

Two others were gravely wounded during the gunfire: Lamborongan, a 56 year-old Christian who was taken to the hospital in serious condition for head and chest wounds, while the 42 year-old Islamic man, Tengge, was brought to another hospital for a wound to his right arm.

There has been tension for quite some time between the two villages, located in the region of Sigi Biromaru around 260 km from Poso. Yet the shoot-out convinced many citizens to leave both villages in order to take refuge in safer areas. Reasons behind the renewed violence in this region of Indonesia are not clear even to police and military officials, who at the moment are patrolling the area on orders from the central government.  

Witnesses from both sides have offered various theories and evidence. The most credible position is that of revenge taken for an event which occurred in 2002, when Maranatha Christians clashed with Muslims from Kotapulu, resulting in the burning down two homes. Authorities are also investigating possible links between these acts of violence and those which occur sporadically in Poso, but for which nobody has ever claimed responsibility.   

The anonymous city attacks are jeopardizing the peace treaty signed in February 2002. The southern Sulawesi have been the stage for such Muslim-Christian clashes for years.

The emigration of fundamentalists to the region and fringe military groups have helped to intensify such clashes.   

In recent days police have launched and a wide search operation, finding 27 bombs, dozens of firearms and 47 rounds of ammunition. The ammunition comes from a factory which makes weapons for the army. Violence over the last few years has erupted in Poso Pesisir, Poso Kota, Pavona Utara and Ampana. According to police Ampana has been the base for all the attacks. (MH)
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