12/13/2004, 00.00
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Tight security ahead of Christmas season

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono instructed Police Chief Gen. Dai Bachtiar and Senior Minister for Security, Laws, and Political Affairs Adm (ret) Widodo AS to tighten security in churches across the country ahead of Christmas and New Year. SBY told them when they are called to the State Palace reporting latest news over the Palu's fresh incidents. SBY looks very concerned over the shooting out and bomb blast that happened in two Protestant Churches in the provincial capital of Palu in Central Sulawesi. This happened when the two churches' congregation were attending Sunday's evening services, at the Immanuel and Anugera Masomba Churches.

"Intelligence and teritorial operation would be combined to curb another possible violence," says Cabinet Minister Lieut Gen Sudi Silalahi to journalists after attending the meeting with SBY, Gen Bachtiar and Adm (ret) Widodo AS.

Central Sulawesi Police Chief Aryato Sutadi today dismissed Palu's Chief Nyoman Siswandi in reason of his failure to provide security in the region. Some of policemen told that Siswandi had neglected the urgency of deployment more security personnel ahead of Christmas as had been asked by local authority.

Prof Sulaiman Mamar, assistant to Rector Tadulako University in Palu, told the press that the incidents were not a religious conflict between former parties Protestant Christians and the Muslims. "There has been third party who had always provoked the warring parties to commence again their religious conflict," he said. In Jakarta, regional representative from Central Sulawesi Ichsan Loulembah said that certain group had the idea of 'transferring' the Poso's conflict to the provincial capital of Paul."

Four years ago, bombs exploded at 11 churches across Indonesia on Christmas Eve, killing 19 people and injuring around 100. The attacks have since been blamed on the al-Qaida-linked terror group Jemaah Islamiyah. Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, Central Sulawesi's population is evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. (MH)

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