Indonesia should provide training and jobs for Muslim militants: think tank

Indonesia should provide training and jobs for Muslim militants formerly involved in religious conflicts to prevent them joining up with extremists and launching terror strikes, a report by an international think tank said Thursday.

Fighting between Muslims and Christians in Maluku and central Sulawesi province in the late 1990s and early 2000s left some 10,000 people dead and attracted thousands of Islamic militants from across Indonesia.

Ex-combatants have been involved in the planning or carrying out of many of bombings that have rocked Indonesia since then, including the 2002 Bali blasts that killed 202 people, police and former militants have said.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that vocational training programs should be implemented in the regions so that the former fighters have a "viable alternative to violence."

"Encouraging local mujahedeen to find other pursuits will not be a silver bullet to end terrorism, but it could be a first step," said Dave McRae, the group's specialist on the Sulawesi conflict. "If they can be reintegrated into civilian life, their willingness to support mujahedeen from elsewhere in Indonesia and engage in violence themselves might be lessened."

The report has taken on added urgency in the light of this month's triple suicide bombings on the resort island of Bali, which killed 23 people, including three attackers, reports the AP. I.L.

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