11/08/2004, 00.00
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Sniper kills minibus driver in Central Sulawesi

Poso (AsiaNews) – A sniper this morning shot and killed the driver of a minibus in Poso (Central Sulawesi). Police chief Abdi Darma declined to say whether the victim was Christian or Muslim to avoid further ethno-religious tensions.

Local authorities said that the man was shot at the head whilst driving an opelet (public shuttle bus) in the centre of Poso. According to police sources, none of the passengers were hurt.

The incident adds fuel to the climate of terror that now prevails in Central Sulawesi, an area which has seen Christians and Muslims clash for some time.

Karminalis Ndele, a Protestant clergyman and lurah (local village chief), was killed last week. Unknown assailants broke into his home and abducted him. His assassins left his severed head by the side of Pinedada village's main street. The rest of the body has not been found.

The region harbours some Laskar Jihad cells, an Islamist organisation tied to Osama bin Laden's terror network.

Inter-communal conflict flared up in Sulawesi in 1999. A peace accord was signed in 2001. For a while it stopped the violence, but clashes started again and continue. Tensions remain high.

An armed group last month shot at a few homes killing a Hindu woman and wounding two Christian men. Two Protestant men were killed on the same day with a sword in the provincial capital of Palu. (MH)

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