- ROME (AFP) - Muslim
groups have driven more than 50,000 Christian villagers from their homes
on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a local Catholic bishop said in a
report from the island published by the Vatican's Fides news agency
- The report said the villagers had fled their homes,
near the town of Poso in the centre of the island, after being attacked
by paramilitaries equipped with firearms, grenades and even
- Monsignor Josef Suwatan, the bishop of the town of Manado
in northern Sulawesi, was appealing to the Indonesian authorities to send
security forces to the region immediately, Fides said.
- The people had been forced to flee because "their
houses were burned down and the police arrived too late," he was
- He said many of the villagers were sheltering in public
buildings and churches.
- Fides said another local church official had accused
the Indonesian authorities of tolerating the attacks.
- The United Nations has expressed concern about violence
in the centre of Sulawesi, a large island in the north of the archipelagic
country, formerly known as Celebes.
- Poso has been the scene of almost two years of sectarian
fighting which has left more than 300 people dead.
- On Tuesday Michael Elmquist, deputy United Nations
Coordinator, said up to 7,000 members of Laskar Jihad -- a Java-based armed
Islamic group which has waged a "jihad" (holy war) against
in the Malukus -- may have moved to Poso to continue their battle.
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