Police Say Aceh Church Burning Was Premeditated Attack

National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti, the National Police chief, said on Saturday that there was a risk of local radicals trying to emulate the attacks, which French President Francois Hollande has blamed on the Sunni militant group Islamic State. (EPA Photo/Mast Irham)

By : Farouk Arnaz | on 11:20 PM October 13, 2015
Category : News, Featured, Religion

Jakarta. Some twenty people have been arrested for possible involvement in the premeditated attack on a church and a deadly clash in Aceh Singkil district around noon, the chief of National Police said late on Tuesday.

"We're still investigating whether those arrested were involved or not," said Gen. Badrodin Haiti. "We will act firmly."

A group of people using 20 motorcycles, three pickup trucks and three cars and carrying axes, sticks and machetes on Tuesday set fire to a protestant church in Suka Makmur village in Gunung Meriah subdistrict, Badrodin said.

"I call on everybody remain calm, so that people don't get provoked by SMS," he added. "We'll deal with this in accordance with the law."

One person -- identified as Syamsul -- died on Tuesday as the mob was confronted by a group of people guarding another church. It is presumed he was hit by a projectile fired from an airsoft gun, the police chief said.

The coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Luhut Panjaitan, said at the State Palace on Tuesday that he was still trying to verify what exactly happened in Aceh.

It was previously reported that an angry Muslim mob attacked and torched the church because it was operating without a permit, and that shots were fired from another church under siege. 

Badrodin said the second clash happened in Dangguran village, where the mob was confronted by people -- including police and military personnel -- guarding another church.

Besides the man who was killed, four others were injured, including a soldier.

"In fact every church [in the area] was being guarded by the military and the police," Badrodin said. "But because there are so many, there were just around 20 people per church, while the mob consisted of about 500 people."

The police chief also said that the local government had already agreed to tear down 21 churches operating without a licence next week, but that some people apparently were not involved in that arrangement and took matters into their own hands on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Ezra Sihite

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