Mon, 11 Sep 2000

Jihad Force chief faces questioning

AMBON, Maluku (JP): The civil emergency ruler in Maluku, Governor Saleh Latuconsina, said his administration soon would summon a number of people for questioning over incidents of provocation in the ravaged province.

"We've already listed them. Among the people to be summoned is Laskar Jihad Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Jihad Force) chief Jafar Umar Thalib for his provocative speech recorded and broadcast over the radio on Sept. 3," Latuconsina said on Saturday.

"We will investigate him and ask him to give an account of his actions, as his speech provoked people during this cooling-off period and insulted President Abdurrahman Wahid.

"The arrangements and investigation will be handled by Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Firman Gani," Latuconsina said.

Jihad Force held a mass prayer at Al Fatah Mosque in Waehaong on Sept. 3. Jafar's speech during the event was recorded and broadcast by Gema Suara Muslim Maluku radio station. According to the authorities, the speech caused tension among residents.

According to reports, the contents of the broadcast speech were extremely provocative. In the speech, Jafar said Jihad Force would not halt its work until Ambon was ruled by Muslims, and he also condemned Abdurrahman.

Pattimura Military Commander Brig. Gen. I Made Yasa supported Latuconsina's move, saying stern action would be taken against any party instigating unrests on the islands.

"I fully support the action. We can no longer tolerate provocateurs, whether they are civilians or security personnel, Muslims or Christians. We are striving to uphold order here and those parties better not stir riots," Yasa said.

In another development, the one-month ban imposed on state- owned Pelni passenger ships entering Maluku's waters has been lifted and the vessels have been allowed to resume operation beginning on Monday.

Among the ships are KM Lambelu, KM Rinjani, KM Dobonsolo, KM Tata Mailau and KM Bukit Siguntang.

"But for security reasons, the Pelni passenger ships have to dock at Halong Naval Base to undergo a thorough search," Latuconsina said.

The authorities have prohibited weapons of any kind from being brought into the province.

"After the search, the Navy will escort the ships to Yos Sudarso Port, where passengers can board or disembark," he said.

The Eastern Fleet Security Commander, Commodore Djoko Sumaryono, said every ship entering Maluku's waters would be escorted by Navy vessels from the waters off Teluk Ambon Baguala to Halong Naval Base, located about six kilometers east of Ambon. (49/edt)