Killer’s Death No Solace to Schoolgirl’s Father

JAKARTA

THE death in a police raid of an Islamic extremist who led the beheading of three Christian schoolgirls in Sulawesi five years ago gave little solace to the father of victim Theresia Morangki.

Cocoa farmer Herneus Morangki, 67, said he thought of his 15-year-old daughter every day as he passed her grave on the way to his fields, and the death of killer Enal Tao could not ease the pain.

“Every day I have to pass by her grave on the way to work, so I’ll always remember her,” he said from his home in Poso, Central Sulawesi province.

“My daughter was such a good child… quiet, obedient and never any trouble. My heart still hurts today. She’s my daughter; how can I ever forget?”

Police vowed to hunt down four other suspects who are still wanted for the murders after Enal, 38, was shot dead in a raid in Aceh province on Monday.

Enal led a group of men who attacked four teenage girls with machetes as they walked to a Christian high school outside the city of Poso, Central Sulawesi, on October 29, 2005.

The brutality of the crime shocked the world and turned the spotlight on the threat of Islamic extremism in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

The attackers beheaded three of the girls in a ritual-style killing to avenge the deaths of Muslims at the hands of Christians during religious violence in the restive area.

The fourth girl escaped with a gash across her chest and alerted villagers.

Police said Enal dumped one of the girl’s heads near a church as a warning to the wider Christian community in Poso.

“Enal Tao’s death is good news for us. He was a very dangerous man and was wanted for a string of cases,” Poso district police chief Roemtaat said, referring to other crimes including the shooting of a policeman and robbery.

Six members of the gang of 12 have been arrested since 2007 and another gave himself up to police four months ago, he said, leaving four still at large.

“We’ll continue to search for the other suspects,” Roemtaat said.

Theresia’s stepmother, Yulin, said hardly a day went by when the family did not think of her.

“She was such a good child, why did she have to die in that manner? It happened a few years ago but we still feel the loss of our daughter,” she said.

She said the killing of Enal was not enough.

“We want all of them arrested and brought to justice. Only then will we feel peace,” she said.

Religious violence flared in Central Sulawesi in 2000 and 2001 and continued sporadically for several years, with killings by both sides.

Herneus and Yulin blamed a small group of violent fanatics for Theresia’s murder, not Muslims in general.

“Despite what happened, we’re not angry with Muslims. We don’t blame all Muslims for a crime committed by a few. We leave this case to God,” Yulin said.

Analysts believe the strife in Central Sulawesi created a hard core of Islamist fighters who have grown beyond local concerns and linked up with others from regional groups like Jemaah Islamiyah.

Enal was one of scores of religious radicals who have been killed or captured since police discovered a terror training camp in Aceh in February, where militants had been learning bomb-making and military tactics.

The suspected leader of the Aceh group, an Indonesian member of Jemaah Islamiyah called Dulmatin, was killed by police in March.

He masterminded the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings which killed 202 people before fleeing to the southern Philippines, where he passed his bomb-making skills to other Asian militants.

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