Tue, 25 Feb 2003

Pakistanis arrested for possession of 12 bombs

Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura, Papua

A Pakistani citizen was arrested by police in Sorong, Papua, for the possession of 12 hand-made bombs, 1,650 arrows, and a large number of slingshots.

And police in Masohi, Central Maluku, have deported four Pakistanis for immigration documents, in relation to giving Muslim sermons, which authorities say could reignite the bloody civil war.

The chief of Papua Provincial Police Insp. Gen. Budi Utomo said in Jayapura on Monday that M. Choya, owner of expedition company PT Prima Tirta, was arrested Monday in connection with the seizure of the weapons from a company warehouse last week.

He said Choya and his employee, Sukisman, were still undergoing intensive interrogation. Police did not rule out further arrests.

He said the suspects had claimed that since 1999 they had stored the weapons for self-defense purposes, in line with the tense situation in the province.

"We have sent the explosives to the forensic laboratory in Makassar, South Sulawesi, to determine their power," he said, adding the case would be thoroughly investigated to determine if there were any links to conflicts in Indonesia, including in Poso in Sulawesi and Ambon in the Malukus.

Papua governor Jaap Salossa said he had instructed security authorities to stay alert for disturbances amidst the controversy on the formation of two new provinces.

"Besides, security authorities have been asked to detect the possible entrance of certain sides who are trying to create a new (sectarian) conflict in the province. We should learn from Maluku."

Maluku's acting governor Sinyo P. Sarundayang said in Ambon on Monday that he had instructed police to investigate foreigners and their activities to maintain peace following three years of war.

"The four Pakistani citizens were deported after they were found doing activities without any permission from authorities. They were also preaching in villages, an activity that could ignite the sectarian conflict," he said.