Sat, 21 Feb 2004

Locals hand over homemade rifles

PALU, Central Sulawesi: Two people living in Tojo Una-Una regency, Central Sulawesi, voluntarily handed over late on Thursday two homemade rifles to local police.

The rifles were handed over in Bahari subdistrict, as the police carried out a massive security operation in the province, known as Sintuwu Maroso III.

Deputy spokesman of the Central Sulawesi provincial police Adj. Comr. Aqil Assegaff expressed relief at the move.

"Others should follow suit. More awareness is badly needed to end the prolonged conflict in Central Sulawesi," he said on Friday.

Sectarian conflict rocked Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, in 2000, when more than 2,000 Muslims and Christians were killed.

The conflict then spread to other neighboring regencies, including Morowali and Tojo Una-Una. The conflict subsided after the rival parties signed a government-sponsored peace pact two years ago, but sporadic armed attacks still occurred until recently in the area.

The provincial police have carried out security operations in the province for three years in order to restore security to the province. Under the operations, the police make random searches of dwellings in the regency to find and seize homemade rifles; so far, hundreds of rifles and homemade bombs have been seized. -- JP