Three die in raid in Central Java, as anti-terror alert stays high
by Mathias Hariyadi
The operation was carried out early this morning in Solo. Two terrorist suspects and a street vendor are killed in gun battle. Extremist groups have been moved to act by Bin Laden’s death. Catholic priest says the world is not safe. Moderate Muslim leader expects more attacks to avenge the death of the al-Qaeda leader.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Three people died in an early morning raid by an anti-terror police unit in Cemani, a village near the city of Solo (Central java Province). Two suspected Muslim extremists are among the dead; the third casualty was a footstall vendor caught in the crossfire. Central Police Chief Inspector General Edward Aritonang confirmed the information at a press conference in Semarang. The operation confirms that Jakarta is committed to the anti-terror fight, which has been bolstered by the recent death of Osama bin Laden. However, as a Catholic priest warns, the latter’s killing will not build “a more peaceful world.” A moderate Muslim leader agrees. “Many more attacks are likely to occur to avenge” the death of the al-Qaeda leader.

Sigit Qoordhowi, who led the Hisbah cell, and his number two, Hendro Yunianto, were killed at dawn this morning. The two extremists were killed when a gunfight broke out with police after they refused to surrender and opened fire. During the gun battle, a street vendor, Nur Iman, was killed.

Qoordhowi and Yunianto were believed to be linked to underground Muslim fundamentalist groups that carried out a suicide attack against police headquarters in Cirebon, West Java, in mid-April.

A cache of weapons and explosive was also found at the scene of the action by the anti-terror unit. Police found inside boxes six pistols, iron items, grenades and thousands of bullets.

Local residents said the house had been rented about three months ago. No one among the neighbours knew exactly what kind of business the two “mysterious” men were involved in.

Today’s operation confirms Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s commitment to the fight against terrorism, one that is backed by much of civil society.

In recent days, Indonesian Special Forces also arrested a number of suspects linked to terrorist groups and extremist movements, including Fernando Pepi, who masterminded the botched attack against the Christ Cathedral Protestant Church in Tangerang District, about 25 kilometres from Jakarta.

Osama bin Laden’s death on 2 May in Pakistan by US Special Forces does not mark the end of the war on terror in Indonesia, which involves dozens of extremist Muslim leaders.

Students from Catholic educational institutions also appear to have succumbed to “underground recruiting” as potential suicide bombers for radical groups, as well as old nationalist groups like the Negara Islam Indonesia (NII), Fr Wiryono SJ said.

Recruiting is no longer limited to university and state schools, said the Catholic priest, who heads the Jesuit-run Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta (Central Java). In fact, a number of students from his university have gone missing, probably recruited by extremist cells, including the NII.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Benny Susetyo, of the Indonesian Bishops of Conference (KWI), said that bin Laden’s death is not a good chapter in world history in terms of peaceful coexistence of religions.

Washington to change its vision of Islam, he said, because a nation’s “foreign policy should promote human dignity and create the conditions for development.”

“Many more attacks are likely to occur to avenge” the death of the al-Qaeda leader, said Kiai Hajj Ulul Huda, a moderate Muslim leader. Indonesian extremists, he told AsiaNews, “adore” bin Laden for his “radical ideas” and vision in a number of fields, including the relationship between the Muslim world and the Christian West. They see him as a “symbol and a martyr” in the struggle against American hegemony.