10/30/2005, 00.00
VATICAN – INDONESIA

Pope close to the families of beheaded Indonesian girls

Benedict XVI asks the bishop of the Manando's diocese to express his condolences to families and the diocesan community. He assures his "fervent prayers for peace among the people of that region".  

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI expresses "deep condolences" to families and diocesan community of the 3 christian girls "barbarically killed" in Indonesia 29th of October. The pope "as soon as hear the sorrowful news" asks msgr. Suwatan, bishop of Manado's diocese, to tell personally and assures "his fervent prayers to the Lord for peace among the people of that region".  

The attack versus Yusriani Sampoe aged 15 years, Theresia Morangke aged 16 and Alvita Polio aged 19, has already served to increase tensions between Muslims and Christians. Poso is fertile terrain to trigger discord between the two communities; the latest incident highlights just how serious the situation is, given that the murders came only a few days before the Muslim festival of Idul Fitri (to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan), popularly known as "Lebaran". The long-drawn out conflict in Ambon, which has claimed thousands of victims, was ignited by clashes which broke out just a few days before Idul Fitri.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that "any wrongdoings which make the situation worse should not be carried out by any Poso resident. Let the government do its job". He is not rejecting any idea that this fresh incident is made by some certain elements of both warring parties. "It could be so…certain people who want to make certain benefits from the conflict," he adds.

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