Christians’ execution sparks violence

Palu, September 22:

Three Christian militants convicted of leading attacks that killed at least 70 Muslims six years ago were executed by firing squad today, sparking fresh sectarian violence in central and eastern Indonesia.

Christian mobs torched cars and police posts in restive Sulawesi province. Elsewhere, security forces fired warning shots to disperse crowds who blockaded roads, looted Muslim-owned shops and burned a prison, freeing hundreds of inmates. Four people were reported injured.

On the island of Flores, the executed men’s birthplace, machete-wielding mobs ran through the streets, sending women and children running in panic.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla appealed for calm, saying the deaths of the Roman Catholic men had nothing to do with religion. “It’s a matter of law,” he told reporters in the capital Jakarta. “If the people resent the law, we are doomed.” Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, were taken from their tightly guarded prison and executed at 1745 GMT on the southern outskirts of Palu. The men were found guilty of leading a Christian militia that launched a series of attacks in May 2000 — including a machete and gun assault on an Islamic school that left 70 men dead.