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Baroness Caroline Cox, member of UK's House of Lords
"Christians have received threats that there will be no church bells ringing in Ambon this Christmas"
 real 28k

Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 06:59 GMT
Moluccas Christians bombed
Smoke rises in central Ambon after relgious clashes (archive picture)
Thousands have died in the last two years
One person has been killed and at least seven injured after home-made bombs were thrown into a Christian procession in Indonesia's troubled Moluccan islands.

A Muslim man was also killed and four others wounded during clashes that broke out after the bombing, Antara news agency said.

The violence in the provincial capital Ambon follows reports of a massacre of more than 50 Christians on an outlying island two weeks ago.

The bomb attack occurred as the Christians were singing hymns on their way to church.

Indonesian soldiers patrol streets of Ambon
Indonesia has declared a civil emergency
Reports say a hostile crowd of Muslims gathered on the route, drawn by the sound of the singing.

They were being held back by local security forces, when two bombs exploded among the Christians.

One soldier was killed, and several other soldiers and civilians were injured.

A doctor at the state Haulussy hospital said one person was wheeled in with his right foot blown off at the ankle, while another had splinters in his backbone.

'No Christmas bells'

Indonesia imposed a state of emergency in the Moluccas in June, in an attempt to rein in the religious violence which has left thousands dead in the past two years.

Burnt house
Violence in the Moluccas has left widespread devastation
The conflict intensified earlier this year with the arrival of volunteers from the Muslim paramilitary Laskar Jihad group, which is based in Java.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organisation, says Muslim militant forces have threatened that "there will be no church bells ringing in Ambon by Christmas".

'Forced conversions'

The bomb attack comes amid reports that hundreds of Christians have fled Kasiui island in the east of the Moluccas following a massacre.

On Tuesday a Christian lawyer, Sammy Weileruni, said nearly 100 people had been killed in late November after refusing to convert to Islam.

Mr Weileruni said the attacks were carried out by the Laskar Jihad.

He said a man who had just escaped from Kasiui told him hundreds of islanders were converting to Islam out of fear for their lives.

There was no independent confirmation of this account.

However, a government spokesman said the Laskar Jihad had raided two Christian villages on 24 November, killing 54 people and burning churches and houses.

He said extra troops had been despatched to Kasiui to prevent further violence.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hundreds flee Moluccas violence
01 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
50 dead in Moluccas clash
27 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Moluccan Christians stage embassy protest
25 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aceh truce extended
02 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Behind the Moluccan violence
20 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thousands flee Lombok
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