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Indonesian Christians avoid Christmas bloodbath

Indonesian Christians celebrated a peaceful Christmas, thanks to strict security measures that prevented bloodshed threatened by Laskar Jihad militants in Sulawesi.

Families flocked to churches for services. In the volatile towns of Ambon in the Moluccas and Poso and Tentena in Central Sulawesi, where at least a thousand Muslim militants were said to be preparing a Christmas attack, Catholics and other Christians prayed without any reported disturbances. The abduction of three peasants in Poso only hours after the Malino peace agreement was signed seemed not to have triggered any new disturbance in the region.

In Jakarta, Surabaya and Manado, where thousands attended masses, tight security included cooperation from Muslim youth organisations.

Jakarta's Archbishop Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja SJ met informally with Muslim leaders, expressing warm wishes for their Idul Fitri festivity and thanked them for helping with security and allowing the cathedral worshippers to park cars in the nearby Istiqlal Grand Mosque area.