More strife in Indonesia in aftermath of executions

A Protestant pastor who strongly defended three Catholics executed last month for their part in inter-religious violence was shot dead yesterday as a bomb blast rocked a jittery eastern Indonesian island.

National Police Chief Gen Sutanto said he ordered an investigation into the death of Rev Irianto Kongkoli who was shot in the head by a masked gunman while visiting a shop with his wife in Palu, the provincial capital of Central Sulawesi, an Associated Press report says.

"We need to make sure such killings do not happen again," he told reporters in the capital Jakarta.

Central Sulawesi Police Chief, Badrudin Haiti, said the shooter, who used a revolver and a 9 mm bullet, sped off on a motorbike with an accomplice.

Tensions have risen in the region since the 22 September executions of three men convicted of leading a Christian militia that carried out a series of attacks in 2000, including a machete and gun assault on an Islamic school that left at least 70 dead.

Human rights groups have questioned the fairness of the trial, with some analysts suggesting that Indonesia bowed to pressure from hard-line Muslims in handing down the sentences.

Few Muslims were punished for their part in the unrest, which left 1,000 people of both faiths dead, and none to more than 15 years in jail.

Central Sulawesi governor Bandjela Paliudju told reporters at the parliament building in Jakarta he believed the priest's death was linked to last month's executions. There have been several bomb blasts and attacks in recent weeks, with at least two people killed.

"He was an outspoken priest who many times led Christian protests against the executions," Paliudju said.

AsiaNews says that the Indonesian Catholic Church and Christians along with human rights groups, Muslim organisations and local government officials condemned the murder of Rev Kongkoli.

"Let an independent taskforce or fact-finding team be established to disclose the facts," said Fr Benny Susetyo, secretary of the Interfaith and Religious Dialogue Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia.

Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Muslim organisation, also strongly condemned the murder. Its chairman, Din Syamsudin, said security forces "must keep the peace and bring to justice the murderers" of Rev Kongkoli.

In another incident, a bomb exploded in the predominantly Christian village of Kayamanya, which is near Poso which was the scene of the inter-religious violence in 2001 that left 2000 people dead. So far there have been no reports of casualties or damages, AsiaNews says.

Indonesians demand the truth in pastor's murder and Poso clashes (AsiaNews, 16/10/06)
Christian priest killed by unidentified gunman in central Indonesia (International Herald Tribune, 16/10/06)
Protestant pastor killed (Asia News, 16/10/06)
Sulawesi gunman kills Christian priest (Ninemsn, 16/10/06)

Christians held over new killings in Indonesia (CathNews, 11/10/06)
Reports of torture before execution of Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 28/9/06)
Indonesia allows executed Catholic's body to return home (CathNews, 26/9/06)
Indonesian Catholics executed this morning (CathNews, 22/9/06)
Execution looms again for Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 20/9/06)
Demonstrators call for execution of Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 5/9/06)
Fate of Bali bombers raises hope for three condemned Indonesian Catholics (CathNews, 22/8/06)
Miracle last hour stay of execution for death row Indonesians (CathNews, 14/8/06)
Thousands rally to save death row Catholics in Indonesia (CathNews, 11/8/06)
Indonesian Catholics to face firing squad on Saturday (CathNews 10/8/06) a/A>
Indonesian death row Catholics lose court appeal (CathNews 16/5/06)
Further appeal opportunity for Indonesian death row Catholics (CathNews 19/4/06)
Activists maintain fight for death row Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 10/4/06)
Second clemency plea for death row Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 28/3/06)
Pope sends envoy to death row Indonesians (CathNews 22/3/06)
Indonesian bishop condemns Catholics' death sentence (CathNews 29/11/05)
Looming execution of three Indonesian Catholics (CathNews 17/11/05)
Indonesian bishop concerned about resurgence of violence in Poso (CathNews 16/8/02)

17 Oct 2006