Terrorist Group Linked to Attack on Christians in Indonesia

Intelligence Chief Admits Presence of International Network

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JAKARTA, Indonesia, DEC. 14, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Indonesia´s intelligence chief says an international terrorist group was involved in recent clashes between Muslims and Christians in Poso on Sulawesi island.

«Poso has become a ground for an international terrorist (group) and a local radical group … a place that is so far from control it has become a battleground for the two groups,» A.M. Hendropriyono told reporters on Wednesday.

The government is investigating whether Poso had also become a meeting point for the international group, which the intelligence chief refused to name. «If I mentioned it, I wouldn´t be an intelligence officer,» he said.

At least 15 people have been killed over the past two weeks in religious clashes in Poso, which have prompted Jakarta to send 2,000 extra troops to restore an uneasy calm to the region, some 980 miles northeast of the capital.

In the past, Indonesian authorities had flatly rejected any suggestions that international terrorist groups had managed to establish a foothold in this large Muslim nation.

Some analysts say Indonesia offers fertile ground for these networks to operate, as the world´s most populous Muslim country struggles to impose law and order in face of its worst political and economic upheaval in decades.

The sprawling archipelago of more than 13,000 islands has relatively porous borders and plenty of potential hiding places. The violence in Poso was a fresh demonstration of the ethnic tension simmering in many parts of the country, and the challenge the central government faces in controlling it.

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