Anti-Christian violence returns to Poso
The area around the town of Poso, in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, has seen about a year of relative calm after years of a deadly anti-Christian campaign by Islamic extremists. But there had been little cause for celebration: as Christianity Todayreported earlier, the reason for the letup was that the militants had succeeded in ridding much of the area of Christians. About 600,000 Christians had been displaced around Indonesia, more than 600 churches razed in the provinces of Maluku and Sulawesi, and thousands in the area were killed in the religious violence between 2000 and 2001.
In recent months, more Christians have been cautiously returning to the Poso area. Over the weekend, apparently so did the Islamic extremists. At least 10 Christians were killed in raids by masked gunmen on four villages. Others say the death toll may be as high as 15—some shot, others hacked to death by machetes. Several others were injured in the attacks, which also left 30 homes and a church destroyed.
The national government sent in thousands of troops to ensure that the violence did not spread, and that Christians did not retaliate against their Muslim neighbors, who make up about 85 percent of the country and 75 percent of Sulawesi's population.
"We are afraid that it will bring back the horrifying experience of fighting among ourselves, just as it was before," local Muslim leader Sulaiman Mamar told The Jakarta Post.
Likewise, the Central Sulawesi Protestant Church Crisis Center's Ferry Naray told The Sydney Morning Herald, "Christian communities here are frightened. … There have been many victims from our side." The paper quotes speculation that the attack may have been connected to commemorations ...1
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