Poso in central Sulawesi has been wracked by civil disturbances and bombs the last few days.
In the wake of the execution of the three Christian men, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marinus Riwu, last week a number of violent incidents and bombings have taken place. These acts of "provocation" seem to be succeeding in stirring up sectarian passions among ordinary people.
The disturbances seem to have begun on Friday 29th September when a police helicopter, carrying the new Central Sulawesi police chief Badrodin Haiti, landed in front of the Pamona Timur police station, at about 15.30, in the village of Taripa, about 100 km's from Poso town. Coincidentally, nearby, there was a gathering of about 3000 local people who were carrying out some sort of traditional harvest ceremony. About 200 of these people came over and attacked the helicopter and the police station, throwing rocks. Badrodin Haiti escaped in his helicopter. The crowd then proceeded to burn several police cars and motorcycles.
Pastor Ade of the Central Sulawesi Christian Church, who was on the scene, said he tried to control the masses but failed. Some people threw rocks at him as well. Pastor Rinaldy Damanik, the chairman of the main Protestant church synod in Palu, 320 km's away, said he believed the masses were angry at the execution of Tibo, et al. He advised that the chief of police, if he wanted to visit Christian areas, should inform people there first, and ascertain the mood of the people before descending on them, out of the sky.
Later in the day, separately, at around 19.30, in Poso town, two men on motorbikes threw one grenade each at the Police Mobile Brigade station in Sayo district. The grenades did not explode.
Then the next morning, Saturday 30th, between 01.15-02.45, three homemade bombs exploded, the first at the front gate of the Eklesia church on Pulau Seram street in Gebangrejo, Poso, with the second and third bombs going off at Tambotoki street, Sayo, Poso, in front of a traditional fish market or about 50 metres from Poso's bus station. No-one was hurt but the explosions caused panic. (Antara and Kompas)
Then later that night, at around 22.00, two more bombs went off, one in front of the Maranatha church in Kawua district, and the second, an hour later, in front of the South Poso local government office on Tabatoki street. After the first bomb went off dozens of policemen descended on the scene but were attacked by local residents. After the second bomb went off it appears that there was a tense stand-off between mobs of people from Kawua and Sayo. Batalyon 714/Sintuwu Maroso Poso of the TNI was then assigned to patrol Kawua while the Mobile Brigade was given responsibility for Sayo. (Kompas)
In the early hours of Sunday, October 1st, a church on Pulau Nias street, Kayamanya district, Poso, was burnt down by a mob at around 02.00. A policeman arrived on the scene by motorbike but was chased away on foot by the mob. Then his motorbike was set alight. No-one was guarding the church and no fire trucks arrived. At around the same time gun shots were heard from the Tanah Runtuh area of Gebang Rejo district. (Media Indonesia.) More tense stand-offs ensued between rival groups in the town but no clashes seem to have occurred.
Also on Sunday a mob attacked a bemo on the Trans Sulawesi road in Poso town and stabbed one of the passengers. The bemo was on its way to Toraja, South Sulawesi, and the stabbing victim was Jelin, 20 years old, from Tanah Toraja. (Metrotv.)
That night, at around 19.00, a police post on Pulau Irian Jaya street, Gebang Rejo, Poso, was burnt down.
In response to these events three Mobile Brigade companies (Satuan Setingkat Kompi (SSK)) were sent from Kelapa Dua, Jakarta. Previously two SSK Brimob units from East Kalimantan and two from South Sulawesi had already been sent to Poso. However by late evening of October 1st Major General Arief Budi Sampurno said TNI units had been withdrawn from Taripa, where the trouble began. He said he had met with community leaders in the area and found no hatred or desire to fight in their faces.