Author Topic: Three Christian militants executed  (Read 1373 times)

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Three Christian militants executed
« on: September 21, 2006, 06:10:59 PM »
Three Christian militants executed in Indonesia for attacks on Muslims

PALU, Indonesia (AP) Three Christian militants were executed by firing squad early Friday for leading attacks on Muslims six years ago that left 70 people dead, a police official and local media said.

The men were taken before the firing squad at 12:15 a.m. (2:15 p.m. EDT Thursday), said a senior police officer who asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media. Metro TV and SCTV had similar reports, but did not identify their sources.

In carrying out the death sentence, Indonesia ignored an appeal last month by Pope Benedict XVI to spare the men. A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told the Italian news agency ANSA that news of the execution ``was very sad and painful.''

Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and Dominggus da Silva, 42, 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 where dozens of men were seeking shelter.

Security forces braced for sectarian violence, with thousands of police blocking roads leading to the prison where the inmates are being held, standing on street corners and guarding nearby churches.

``I understand they have been killed,'' said Roy Rening, their attorney, adding that he was still awaiting confirmation from the prosecutor's office.

The case against them has heightened tensions in the world's most populous Muslim nation and raised questions about the role religion played in punishing those allegedly behind the vitepped up on the island of Flores, where the three men were born, said Lt. Col. Endang Syafrudin, the island's police chief.

Access to the prison was cut off late Thursday, with security forces blocking cars and motorcycles on surrounding roads.

Tibo, Riwu and da Silva discussed their final wishes with relatives, lawyers and their priest from giving a message to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to having relatives and spiritual advisers accompany them when they are led to their deaths.

The government rejected all of their requests, the men's lawyer Roy Rening later told reporters.

Their priest, the Rev. Jimmy Tumbelaka, warned that the decision could further stoke tensions.

``It is not good,'' he said. ``I'm afraid this will only make people angrier.''

Indonesia is a secular nation with the world's largest number of Muslims, about 190 million. In Sulawesi and several other eastern regions, Christian and Muslim populations are roughly equal.

Though violence in Sulawesi largely ended with the signing of a peace deal in 2002, there have been isolated incidents of violence since then, most blamed on Islamic militants.

Rinaldy Damanik, the head of the Central Sulawesi assembly of churches, called on Christians to stay calm.

``My worry is there will be another bombing or shootings'' timed to the executions, he said. ``If that happens, then I fear the masses will be uncontrollable.''
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