11/18/2005, 00.00
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Another young woman murdered in central Sulawesi

by Benteng Reges
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.

Palu (AsiaNews) – Tensions are rising again in Palu, capital of the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi after a 22-year-old woman was slashed to death with a machete.

Yanti, the name of the victim, and two of her friends—Evi and Anca—were riding on a two-wheeled motorcycle in town en route to a traditional dance event, when they were unexpectedly intercepted by another  motorcycle with three male passengers coming from the opposite direction.

Without any warning, one of the men slashed at the women with a machete. Anca who was on the motorcycle's bar instinctively ducked at the sudden attack. Yanti, who was just sitting behind her, was slashed in the neck, while Evi's right arm was seriously injured.       

The young women tried in vain to get medical attention at a nearby military hospital but were forced to go to another hospital.

Yanti did not make—she bled to death.

Evi is currently recuperating in Palu's Central Hospital.

As an eyewitness to the murderous assault, Anca said she saw the three men riding together on a motorcycle but had no idea about who they were.

"I never thought we could have any enemies", the young woman said at Palu Central Police Office. "I can't understand why anyone would want to kill us".

Palu's Deputy Police Chief Hermansyah declined to answer reporters' questions. Journalists wanted to know whether the violence in Poso was not also spreading to Palu.

In Poso three teenage Christian girls were decapitated on October 29 and just over a week later, two armed men shot two female students in the face.

As for the last crime, anti-terrorism units of the police raided homes belonging to alleged suspects involved in the November 8 shooting incident. Two houses belonging to suspects known only by their initials DA and AB were searched. A house belonging to a third suspect, also identified by the initials ME, was searched.

Between 1998 and 2001 the Sulawesi Islands were the scene of violent clashes between Christians and Muslims.

Today, many are fearful that the recent acts of violence might be the harbinger of a renewed sectarian conflict. 

Local Muslim and Christian leaders are convinced however that the perpetrators of these crimes are not local Muslims but agents provocateurs sent by outside groups bent on sowing chaos in the area.

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