Wed, 24 May 2000

Three killed as more violence erupts in Poso

PALU, Central Sulawesi (JP): Three people were killed and 15 others injured while scores of houses were set ablaze in fierce clashes that erupted in the town of Poso on Tuesday.

The three victims were identified as Sgt. Maj. Kamaluddin Ali, policeman; and Abdul Syukur and Baba, residents of MoEngko Baru village, Antara reported.

The clash on Tuesday was the second this year after religious unrest claimed two lives on April 17.

The medical team examining the dead bodies said that the three died from severe stab wounds. Abdul Syukur died at the Poso state hospital, while the other two probably died at the "battle ground."

Police and military personnel refused to reveal the chronology of the communal clash, but several unofficial sources said the riot began after a large group of people attacked several security posts in a residential area. It was not clear if the clash was motivated by religious sentiment.

Central Sulawesi police confirmed the violence, but could confirm only one fatality.

"We were informed by Poso Police Precinct about the death of Kamaluddin Ali at 8:00 a.m.," First Lt. Ishak was quoted by Antara as saying.

Chief of the Poso Military District Command Lt. Budiardjo was not available for confirmation.

An officer at the military office told The Jakarta Post by phone that Budihardjo was in Makassar to report the rioting to the Wirabuana Military Command chief.

"Please contact the Poso Police Precinct, Pak Budiardjo is in Makassar," the officer said.

However, the Poso Police Precinct was not available for comment.

Poso was still tense in the evening and hundreds of people, mostly women and children, sought refuge at military and police offices in Poso. (27/sur)