Poso (Agenzia Fides) - "We have to save the country from dangerous terrorist attacks. We condemn every act of terrorism and religious fundamentalism, corruption and destruction of the environment": this is what the Indonesian Catholic organizations say in the aftermath of the massacre in Poso, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where four Salvation Army Christians, members of the same family, were killed on 27 November. One victim was beheaded and the others were shot to death, then their bodies were set on fire. The four Christian farmers were approached by a commando of the terrorist group Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (Mujahidin of Eastern Indonesia, MIT), whose leader ordered the four victims to kneel down and then killed them. A church and several other houses were also set on fire in the attack..
The Organization of Indonesian Catholic Women (WKRI), the Association of Catholic Intellectuals (ISKA) and the Catholic Youth Organization have expressed dismay and concern and urged the country’s institutions to intervene immediately to protect citizens from dangerous acts of terrorism. Catholic groups have strongly condemned "the brutal acts that affect human life and tarnish the conscience of the nation". "We call on all Indonesian society to have the courage to stop such violent acts and promote unity. We must take an active part in breaking the chain of violence and intolerance", said Karolin Margret Natasa, President of Catholic Youth Movement.
The terrorist attack in Sulawesi shook the entire country, provoking a broad reaction in civil society from religious organizations of different faiths and firm condemnation from political leaders. Indonesia's President Joko Widodo sent a message to the nation admonishing: "There is no place on Indonesian soil for terrorist acts". The president announced that he had given direct orders to the police to carry out a manhunt operation to trace the perpetrators of the massacre. "These brutal acts of terrorism violate our humanity and civilization", said the President, announcing financial support to the victims' families. Such attacks "are intended to cause terror and destroy national unity. Therefore, we hope as a country to remain united to counter these terrorist groups".
Poso is located in central Sulawesi province and was the scene of bloody violence between Protestant Christians and radical Muslim groups between 1999 and 2001. The conflict escalated when former Indonesian jihadist fighters from the Philippines and Iraq joined local Muslims to wage war against Christians. In December 2001, a truce was signed by the warring parties under the Malino Peace Agreement, but radical Islamic fighters are still active in the region. (MH-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 1/12/2020)