Friday, November 17, 2006

Fugitive surrenders in Poso

National News - November 16, 2006
Ruslan Sangadji, The Jakarta Post, Palu

One of 29 people wanted by police for suspected involvement in anti-Christian attacks in Poso and Palu, Central Sulawesi, has surrendered, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Andi Ilalu, alias Andi Bocor, 38, voluntarily surrendered to a local leader Tuesday afternoon. The resident of Mapane, Poso Pesisir district, was flown to the provincial capital Palu for questioning by the police anti-terror detachment.

Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Muhammad Kilat confirmed Andi had surrendered. "He went to see a leader in Mapane, who then took him to the Poso Police office," he told The Jakarta Post.

He said preliminary investigations indicated that Andi was possibly connected to the 2003 murder of Kasrin Ladidin in Landangan, Poso Pesisir.

A second deadline for suspects to surrender ended Tuesday, leaving 28 people still at large.

The second deadline was given after the first one, from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, failed to achieve results. This may have been because the suspects' relatives refused to assist in the police investigation, fearing their relatives would be tortured.

"We will only hand over our family members if the police promise not to harm them," said Yunus Gafur, the grandfather of two suspects.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bahrul Alam said earlier the 29 suspects, all civilians, were believed to be involved in a range of violent acts.

Meanwhile, 15 other militants, belonging to the Tanah Runtuh and Kayamanya Muslim groups from the town of Gebang Rejo, were recently arrested. They are considered suspects in a series of attacks, beginning in 2001, that targeted Christians in Central Sulawesi, the National Police spokesman said.

The Tanah Runtuh group has been accused of involvement in several murders in Poso since 2001, including the 2005 beheading of three Christian school students and the shooting of a Christian minister in Palu last month, AFP reported.

The second group has been accused of robbery and inciting mob violence by raising religious issues and spreading hatred against the police.

Anton said with the passing of the second deadline, the police were left with two choices; to continue trying to persuade the suspects to turn themselves in voluntarily, or to be more active in searching for them.

If the persuasive method fails again, the police will not be afraid to find and arrest the suspects, but he promised there would no violence or abuse toward them.

"We'll protect their rights. That's why they will be accompanied by their lawyers and the police will be under the supervision of the National Police during any interrogation," Anton said.

He said that based on intelligence reports, the suspects were still in Poso and the police would guard the city's entrances and exits to stop them from leaving. The police would also cooperate with police from neighboring countries to prevent them from escaping abroad.

"But I'm sure they will not be able to get out of Poso, let alone escape to other countries. They're all still in Poso so it's better for them to surrender to the police," Anton reiterated.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Police seek 29 people for involvement in Poso terrorism

Ruslan Sangadji
The Jakarta Post

The Central Sulawesi Police are hunting at least 29 people believed to have been involved a series of violence acts in Poso and Palu.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bahrul Alam said Tuesday the 29 suspects were believed to be involved in bombings, killings and other violence. All were civilians, Anton said.

Fifteen other people have recently been arrested for a series of attacks since 2001, mainly for targeting Christians in Central Sulawesi, he said.

The 15 belonged to the Karamanya and Tanah Runtuh Muslim miltant groups that live in the town of Gebang Rejo, Anton said.

That town was earlier the scene of a police raid last week, when a Muslim man was shot dead after a gun battle with officers.

Naming the men, he said seven of them belong to the Tanah Runtuh group: Hasanuddin, Abdul Haris, Irwanto Iriano, Ponirin alias Andi Ipong, Yusuf Asapa, Rahmat and Sudirman alias Opo. The other eight belonged to Kayamanya: Fadli Barsalim alias Opo, Yusman Said alias Budi, Syakur, Farid Maruf, Yusman Sahad, Iswandi Maraf, Rusli Tawil and Ifet.

"The suspects are believed to have been involved in a series of violent acts from 2001 to 2006. They are now being intensively questioned at the National Police Headquarters and the Central Sulawesi Police precinct," Bahrul Alam said.

The group were suspected of involvement in 13 attacks including last year's beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls in Poso and the murder of a woman minister and a prosecutor in 2004.

Bahrul Alam said the police had also confiscated evidence from the suspects in the forms of M-16 rifles, pistols and homemade bombs.

The naming of the suspects did not disrupt activities in the town, with government offices, markets and other shopping centers remaining peaceful, despite media reports in Jakarta that said the town was "paralyzed" after the announcement.

"Who said Poso was paralyzed? That is baseless. The (media) should not just look for sensationalism," Poso Regent Piet Inkiriwang said.

Patrice, 32, a Christian working alongside Muslims in one of Poso's market areas, welcomed the arrests.

"We don't want to be involved in enmity. We're all brothers and sisters here (apart) from the terrorists ... We want peace," said the mother of two.