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Christians held over new killings in Indonesia


Fourteen Indonesian Christians face new charges of murder following the bludgeoning to death of two Muslim fish sellers in the aftermath of the execution of three Catholics last month for their part in earlier incidents of inter-religious violence.

The fish sellers were killed at an illegal roadblock on the island's main road and their bodies were buried in a shallow grave nearby, Central Sulawesi police chief Brigadier-General Badrudin Haiti said, according to a report in The West Australian.

The executions last month of the three Catholic militants for their role in violence against Muslims during sectarian clashes in 2000 triggered riots among Christians. Human rights and church groups have raised questions over the fairness of the trial.

The roadblock was one of several set up by Christian youths on the island after the executions.

However, Brigadier-General Haiti denied that the killings had anything to do with the executions, which happened on the same day. He said the two Muslims were killed because they failed to slow down at the checkpoint.

In another report, Adnkronos International (AKI) says that the situation in Central Sulawesi remains tense.

"The situation is not yet calm," Mona Saroinsong, coordinator at the Crisis Centre for synagogues and churches in North and Central Sulawesi told AKI. "The two communities [Christians and Muslims] are still in dispute," she said.

"In the last few weeks there have been isolated clashes but, luckily, no mass-attacks by one community on another," Saroinsong told AKI.

However Adnan Arsal, one of the local Muslim leaders, described how one incident came close to becoming a mass clash between the two religious communities.

"It happened after a bomb exploded in Kawua village, a few days ago," Adnan Arsal told AKI. "The police arrived to investigate but when a group of Christians started to throw stones at them, about 1000 Muslims intervened to protect them," he said.

"Luckily the military kept the Christians on one side and there was no violence," he said.

The bomb in Kawua was one of five explosions in the province since 30 September.


SOURCE
Indonesia: Situation remains tense in Sulawesi, say religious leaders (Ad Kronos International, 10/10/06)
Christians held over killings (West Australian, 11/10/06)

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11 Oct 2006