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Church set on fire in Indonesia's Poso region

Written by: Staff
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JAKARTA, Oct 24 (Reuters) An armed group set fire to a Christian church in Indonesia's Poso region today, a day after it clashed with a patrol party in the troubled region, a police officer said.

Poso in Central Sulawesi has been tense since the executions last month of three Christian militants over their role in the Muslim-Christian violence that gripped the region from 1998-2001.

''A church was burned at around 0015,'' Poso police chief Rudy Sufariady told Reuters, adding that there were no casualties from the incident.

Yesterday, a police patrol fought with a group armed with automatic weapons, home-made pipe bombs and stones. One person died in the clash and three were wounded, including a police officer.

When asked if the perpetrators of the attack on the church were from the group that clashed with police yesterday, Sufriady said: ''That's for certain, it's the same group''.

Central Sulawesi police spokesman Muhammad Kila said police had not made any arrests and were still investigating the incident, which was close to the site of Monday's clash.

''The roof of the back section of the church was damaged.

The motives remain unknown until now.'' Muslims in Indonesia are holding Eid al-Fitr festivities this week to mark the end of the fasting season of Ramadan.

Three years of sectarian clashes in Central Sulawesi killed more than 2,000 people before a peace accord took effect in late 2001. There has been sporadic violance ever since.

Around 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people follow Islam, but some areas in eastern Indonesia have roughly equal numbers of Muslim and Christians.

REUTERS SY RN1349

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