Indonesian Authorities, Religious Leaders Say Sunday Killing Not Religiously Motivated

( [email protected] ) Jul 22, 2004 04:47 PM EDT

Following the shooting of a woman Protestant minister in Indonesia, Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri called on all Christian followers and church activists across the country on Tuesday to be calm, reported a Jakarta-based newspaper. The Reverend Susianti Tinulele, 29, was killed instantly and four others were injured after several masked gunmen burst into the church and opened fire at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday in Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi.

According to Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) chairman, Rev. Nathan Setiabudi, President Megawati asked the people to rely the settlement of the case on the police, and the community was not allowed to make the situation more worse which could hamper the police investigation.

"This is not a sectarian conflict," said Megawati as quoted by Setiapbudi after a meeting with her. The Indonesian Police chief for criminal justice said preliminary investigation into the minister's killing suggested that it was "purely a criminal act".

"Thus, we must find the perpetrators and bring them to justice," Comr. Gen. Suyitno Landung said.

The president has demanded the national police chief General Da'i Bachtiar to visit the scene of the shooting and to settle the case.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's second largest Islamic organization, the Muhammadiyah, has expressed concern over violence in parts of the country earlier today. According to the Jakarta Post newspaper, deputy chairman of the organization's executive board, Din Syamsuddin, said that last Sunday's slaying was not the result of religious conflict, but may have been aimed at creating it.

"Such an action could have been planned to divide people and increase tension between Muslims and Christians," said Din, calling on the police to settle the case thoroughly.

He said he had also spoken with leaders of other religions who also believed there was no religious conflict involved the case.

Din also urged people to resist provocation, maintain harmony and strengthen relations between different communities.

Between 2000 and 2001, over 2,000 people were killed during the sectarian clashes between Christians and Muslim communties in the area near Palu.

[Source: The Jarkarta Post]