Motorcyclists wielding machetes have attacked Christians in Donggala Regency, Central Sulawesi, leaving one dead and five injured.
On Thursday evening, 11 March, four men riding on two motorcycles sped through the village of Maranatha, 18 miles south of the regional capital Palu, leaving death and bloodshed in their wake. Nuci, a 40 year old mother of two, died two hours after receiving fatal injuries to her head, neck and back. A witness to the incident described how she heard the roar of the motorbikes, followed almost immediately by a baby’s screams. She ran towards the cries and found Nuci, bleeding to death and crawling towards her baby. The attackers wounded five others, who were Efrain, 30, Kanus, 30, Kalfin, 25, Pianus, 18, and Listin, 17 (many Indonesians have just one name).
The situation in the village is still tense, but no further incidents have been recorded. Hundreds of villagers are now standing on guard with machetes, spears and hand-made guns. The dead woman’s relatives have called on the police to respond decisively as they fear that this is the start of another round of anti-Christian attacks.
On Monday 15 March, five suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were convicted on charges of terrorism in Palu District Court. Three of them, described as key local JI members, were jailed for six years, while the others received sentences of five and three years. JI has been blamed for the Bali bombings and widespread church bombings on Christmas Eve 2000.
While the district court in Palu has upheld justice, the same cannot be said concerning a recent decision in Indonesia’s Supreme Court. The court upheld an August 2002 decision to acquit five army officers of their suspected role in the massacre of 200 Christians in a church. The attack, in which three church ministers were also killed, took place in East Timor on 6 September 1999. Human Rights Watch has called on the UN to investigate the failure of the courts to reach a conviction.