08/21/2018, 14.39
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Molotov against Makassar Protestant church. Police: 'It's not terrorism'

by Mathias Hariyadi

The author of the act, 18 year old Jampardi, wanted to steal "precious objects", but was "emotionally provoked" by security cameras. The Toraja are an ethnic majority Christian group, about 80% of the local population. The territory was in the past the theater of sectarian violence, which pitted groups of Islamic and Protestant extremists  against each other.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A young man attempted to burn the Protestant ethnic church Toraja Masale of Panakkukang (photo) in Makassar, the capital of the South Sulawesi province.

Local police reports that "at 5:00 today, a man climbed the church wall and threw a Molotov cocktail at the front door." After the small fire, the authorities identified the 18-year-old Jampardi as the author of the act.

According to investigators, the young man intended to steal "precious objects" from the place of worship but was "emotionally provoked", once he became aware of being filmed by security cameras. Irwan Anwar, head of the Makassar police, declares that "this is not about terrorism, but only about common crime". "We are facing a failed attempt at crime", he adds.

The Toraja are a mostly Christian ethnic group (about 80% of the population), originating from the mountain regions of Central and South Sulawesi. It takes eight to nine hours by car to reach "Tana Toraja" (the Land of the Toraja) from Makassar. A renowned tourist destination, over the years the territory has been the scene of sectarian violence, which has pitted groups of Islamic and Protestant extremists  against each other.

Between 1998 and 2000 in Poso, a predominantly Islamic locality of Central Sulawesi, a series of bloody clashes took place. Only a peace treaty signed by the two factions in December 2001 put an end to the violence. Nonetheless, the region remained a stronghold of Islamist organizations like East Indonesia Mujahedeen, which even after the agreement led to several terrorist attacks against the Christian community.

In recent years, the government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered a series of military operations against Islamists and in July 2016, the security forces killed the leader, Abu Wardah Santoso.

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