Sulawesi bombs seen as attempt to reignite sectarian hatred

Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has said that he is "fully convinced" that the weekend's bombing was done by hard-line terrorists from Java who "had nothing to do with local religious communities".

AsiaNews reports that the two bombs that exploded on Saturday in a local market 60 km from the Central Sulawesi capital, killed 22 people. Reverend Deni, 37, a Protestant clergyman from the Central Sulawesi Church Synod, was among the victims.

Speaking to the press at his home in Makassar (capital of South Sulawesi province), Vice-President Kalla reiterated his conviction that the attack in the town of Tentena was the work of "terrorist groups from Java".

"They left Java and started operating in Poso," he said, "and made Tentena their safe haven".

"I am fully convinced that this is not a conflict between Christians and Muslims because the two parties had fully agreed to stop the violence when they signed the Malino peace agreement," Kalla explained. "They also agreed that hard-line terrorists should be regarded as their 'common public enemy'. Tentena's terrorists may be the same group who carried out the same bloody attack in Ambon, Poso, and Mamasa in West Sulawesi," he added.

Kalla ordered police and the military to bring the terrorists to justice.

Sulawesi Military Commander Major General Suprapto agreed with the Vice-President as to who might be behind the attack, adding that it "is likely an attempt to destroy the inter-religious truce and provoke further clashes between Christians and Muslims".

The Tentena bombing is the fourth in six months in the Poso area. The wave of terrorist attacks in Indonesia is having international repercussions as well. Several countries, including those of Japan and the United Kingdom, shut down their embassies at the weekend and stopped all consular activities because of the "recent terrorist threats".

Sulawesi bombs, an attempt to reignite sectarian hatred (AsiaNews.it 30/5/05)

Bombing renews fears of religious strife in Indonesia (Catholic World News/Fides 30/5/05)
Eastern Indonesia: Christians face renewed attacks (Independent Catholic News/Fides 31/5/05)

31 May 2005