Following up on yesterday’s horrific news of the triple beheadings of Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia, here’s the latest via Reuters/India:
Indonesian police increased patrols on Sunday in the Poso area, plagued by sectarian violence for years, after assailants in black beheaded three teenage Christian girls.
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict offered his deepest sympathies to the families of the 16 to 19-year-old students, who police said were attacked by six machete-wielding men as they walked to school on Saturday on Indonesia’s eastern island of Sulawesi.
Police official Made Rai said about 1,000 police, including reinforcements from other parts of the country, were securing the remote regency of Poso, with more than 300 additional officers expected to arrive during the day.
“So far no witness has been questioned and no suspect arrested,” Rai told Reuters by telephone from Poso, about 1,500 km northeast of the capital Jakarta. One student survived and had described the attack.
The Vatican called the killings “barbaric” and said in a statement that the Pope would pray for “the return of peace among the people” of the region.
Muslim-Christian clashes in the Poso area killed 2,000 people from 1998 through 2001, when a peace deal was agreed.
While the worst violence abated after the deal, there have been sporadic outbreaks since. Bombings in May in the Christian town of Tentena killed 22 people.
The three headless bodies of the girls, dressed in brown uniforms, were left at the site of the attack. Their heads were found at separate locations two hours later by residents.
IHT: “Reprisals are feared.”
More details via The Jakarta Post:
The victims were identified as Yarni Sambue (15) Interesia Morangke (16) and Alfita Paulina (19). The survivor has been identified as Noviana Malewa, who is currently in intensive care at a nearby hospital.
The bodies of the girls were left at the site of the attack near a cocoa plantation. The heads were found at separate locations two hours later by residents, said Adj. Comr. Rais Adam, the Central Sulawesi Police spokesman.
One of the heads was found near a church.
As word of the heinous murders got around, Poso became deserted.
National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto flew to Poso on Saturday to hold a dialog with the local administration and religious leaders in a bid to help maintain order in the area. Some 400 policemen were also deployed to reinforce security in the religiously divided city.
Susilo has also ordered Poso officials to calm people down to prevent a repeat of the wanton violence that ended in 2002.
Soon after the news of the decapitations spread, dozens of residents from nearby Tentena gathered to protest outside the district police headquarters.
Dog Pundit notes that “On the day before the three Indonesian schoolgirls were beheaded by Islamic militants, some children from Jakarta were used for an Islamic rally.” Photos included.
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