Police say Azahari was preparing Christmas church terror

Terrorism mastermind Azahari bin Husin and his group were preparing a series of bomb attacks against churches in Malang to coincide with the Christmas, according to Indonesian police sources.

CLICK HEREAsiaNews reports that police are still trying to determine why Azahari had rented a villa in Batu, a mountainous tourist resort near the city of Malang (East Java), but intelligence sources believe that his "target was a very big church in Malang".

Azahari allegedly blew himself up to avoid capture by a special police anti-terrorist squad after a two-hour operation in Batu. And today police sources confirmed that the human remains that were tested were those of the wanted terrorist.

Malang is a tourist resort area 80 km south of Surabaya, capital of East Java province. It is home to many Catholic religious orders like the Verbites and Carmelites as well as a major seminary that received hundreds of seminarians from different orders to study philosophy and theology.

The St Joseph College Senior High School is another well known local Catholic institution and is run by Carmelite sisters. The Bishop's residence is close to the school.

In addition to Catholic institutions, there are several Protestant ones.

Investigators believe that Azahari was planning a series of bomb attacks on Christmas night and during the festive season. Something similar had already occurred on Christmas day 2000 when bombs exploded in five churches in Jakarta and other Indonesian cities.

Protestant churches in Sulawesi were targets of attacks in recent years, Christians in East Java were equally victims of extremist violence.

In the villa that had become the terrorists' hideout, police found 30 explosive devices and several semiautomatic guns with silencer.

Azahari was preparing Christmas terrorist attacks against churches (AsiaNews.it 10/11/05)

Slain terrorist planned Christmas church bombings (Catholic World News 10/11/05)

11 Nov 2005