Rival police, military units clash in Indonesia's central province

Rival police and military units clashed in Indonesia's central Sulawesi province, frightening residents in a region plagued by religious violence and terrorism by Islamic extremists, witnesses and police said Tuesday. The firefight late Monday lasted for about one hour, but there were no injuries.

Also in Poso, unidentified people set off a small explosive device, described by police as a "blank detonator", in a street facing a Christian church, said Brig. Gen. Oegresono. The blast could be heard up to two kilometers (one mile) away, but caused no damage or injuries, he said.

The clash between soldiers and police took place in downtown Poso close to police headquarters, witnesses said. Police Gen. Rudi Sufariadi said the fight was "due to a misunderstanding" between the two forces and promised to punish officers involved. He declined to elaborate.

Fights between Indonesia's notoriously ill-disciplined police and military are common across the country. They are often sparked by disputes over illegal business that critics say both forces are heavily involved in.

Poso and surrounding districts saw fierce battles between Muslims and Christians in 2001 and 2002 that killed about 1,000 people. Fighting has now stopped, but Islamic militants have continued a campaign of bombings, shootings and other attacks on Christians. Thousands of security forces are in the region to maintain security, reports the AP. I.L.

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