Tensions rising in Poso, police shooting at armed civilians
Poso (AsiaNews) – Anti-terrorism operations are intensifying in Poso (Central Sulawesi), scene of increasing clashes between police and Islamic extremists.
This morning nine civilians and policeman died in a shooting incident in Tanah Runtuh, a predominantly Muslim area of Poso, police spokesman Inspector General Sisno Adi Winoto said during a press briefing. Three more police officers were wounded, he added.
For weeks now, Indonesian police has been going after terrorists involved in sectarian violence that broke out in Sulawesi province.
Poso and its region have seen violence between Christians and Muslims in the past. In 1999-2001 more than a thousand people were killed in similar incident and many more fled.
In today’s operation, which lasted three hours, police arrested 18 alleged Islamic militants and seized a number of explosive devices and different types of weapons.
As a result of today’s clashes, which some local residents said occurred in various parts of the city, schools, offices and stores have had to shut down.
Violence in Poso has escalated since January 11 when security forces killed Rian, also known as Santoso, a leader of the so-called Afghan Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist network that is thought to be linked to al-Qaeda.
Last Friday and Saturday a series of bomb attacks shook the city, damaging a church but no one was injured.
In the wake of these actions Sulawesi police commander stated that his men will not hesitate to shoot at any armed men.