Threat in Sulawesi remains high
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The series of violent incidents in both Central and South Sulawesi over the last three months may not yet be over despite the recent massive security sweep of the area.
The most recent attacks include the throwing of a bomb, which failed to explode, at South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo, by a suspect linked to a terrorist network in Poso, Central Sulawesi, and the shooting of Poso Pesisir Utara Police subprecinct chief First Insp. B. Taruklabi at his official residence by unidentified attackers in the early hours of Thursday morning. Taruklabi survived the attack.
Poso Police precinct deputy chief Comr. Eko Yudi confirmed Thursday’s attack, saying that Taruklabi was shot twice when he was about to remove the ignition key from his motorcycle on his verandah.
“The police chief evaded the shots by ducking and entered the house to get his gun to fight back,” Eko said.
The attackers fired twice again before another on-duty police officer returned fire without hitting the assailants.
Eko said that his officers had investigated the incident site and found two empty shell casings. “We also found two bullet holes in the wall of the police chief’s house,” he added.
The Christian-majority regency of Poso, with a population of around 215,000, was rocked by bloody communal clashes from 1998–2001 that claimed around 1,000 lives and displaced 25,000.
After the signing of a peace agreement called the Malino Declaration in 2001, the security situation had gradually returned to normal.
Former Christian and Muslim fighters have done more than simply criticize the government’s shortcomings in curbing the potential return of sectarian conflict.
The former fighters have become leaders of peace campaigns and have advocated on behalf of those who have borne the brunt of police brutality.
On the other hand, however, there are hardline groups who have tried to continue to spread terror in the area.
The hardline groups have gathered around Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), building their headquarters in Poso and using Gunung Biru in Tamanjeka hamlet where they erected a training camp.
The camp was overrun by the security forces during the recent massive operation, which involved Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members and also military personnel.
Although the troops have been withdrawn from the operation in Tamanjeka, Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Dewa Parsana said the law enforcement operation was still ongoing.
Meanwhile, following the hunt for alleged terrorists at Moncongloe village in Maros regency, South Sulawesi, local residents have become increasingly wary and suspicious of any strangers.
On Thursday the villagers detained Faisal, 24, due to his odd behavior. After questioning him, they found out that Faisal was mentally ill and had nothing to do with any terrorist groups being sought by the authorities in the village.
South Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr Endi Sutendi said on Thursday that Faisal came to Moncongloe village in search of accommodation after he was evicted by his uncle.
“Local residents became suspicious of him due to his strange movements and the backpack he was carrying,” he added.