Tue, 06 Aug 2002

Bombings rock Poso, shattering peace

Jupriadi, The Jakarta Post, Makassar

The quest for long-lasting peace and security faces another serious test in Poso as a spate of recent bombings rocked the once-ravaged Central Sulawesi town on Sunday night.

Local officials said on Monday that the house of Poso legislative council speaker Murad U. Nasir was one of the targets bombed in the latest incident at around 11 p.m.

There were no reports of casualties, but the explosion severely damaged Murad's kitchen and the rear of his house.

Similar blasts also took place in several other locations across the town.

"At least eight bomb explosions occurred last night (Sunday night) in Poso," Yus Mangun, chairman of the Central Sulawesi legislative council's commission B, told The Jakarta Post in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

"This incident has shocked us and given us serious cause for concern," he said.

Yus Mangun, a provincial councillor representing Poso, said he received a report of bombings from various parties in his town, including his colleagues, shortly after the incident.

He confirmed that no casualties were reported.

The legislator warned that the series of recent bombings could destabilize the area's security and shatter peace in Poso. "We condemn the incidents because it has heightened anxiety among local people," he added.

However, Central Sulawesi administration secretary Samijono said the recent bombings would not undermine efforts to promote reconciliation in Poso between warring Muslims and Christians, which was signed eight months ago in the South Sulawesi town of Malino.

"The small-scale blasts are not likely to disrupt the peace process," he added.

Poso has been largely calm and security has been significantly improved despite sporadic cases of explosions and attacks following the peace accord.

The latest bombings occurred one day after Muslim figure Sukirman, who had been missing for two days, was found decapitated on Saturday.

On July 12, a bomb blast destroyed a bus in Poso, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring four others, including the bus conductor.

At least 11 other people were killed and many others wounded in previous bombs that had gone off between June and January. Hundreds of kiosks were badly damaged when a market in Poso was also bombed.

It is believed the recent attacks were launched by groups from outside Central Sulawesi. An extreme group from Java was found to be conducting military-style training in a remote part of Poso during the sectarian conflict.

A dozen Army's Special Force (Kopassus) personnel specializing in intelligence were deployed to the town three weeks ago.

Central Sulawesi Military Commander Col. Suwayuhadji said the elite troops had been tasked with investigating the presence of foreign troops linked to the recent bus bombings and several fatal shootings there.

"Their duty is to make sure peace in Poso is restored as soon as possible," Suwayuhadji said, adding the deployment was ordered by the Indonesian Military Headquarters.