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The BBC's Jonathan Head in Jakarta
"These are familiar scenes in Indonesia"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 December, 2000, 01:01 GMT
Bombs target Indonesian churches
Crowds examine the wreckage outside a church in Jakarta
Crowds examine the wreckage outside a church in Jakarta
At least 10 people have been killed in a series of co-ordinated bomb attacks on churches and religious sites across Indonesia as Christians gathered to celebrate at Christmas services.

The targets were spread across thousands of kilometres of Indonesian territory: in the capital, Jakarta, in Sumatra, and in east and west Java.

Church blasts
Jakarta
5 blasts, 3 dead
Pekanbaru, Sumatra
3 dead
Sukabumi, W Java
3 dead
Mojokerto, E Java
1 dead
Three of the victims were killed in Jakarta, where bombs went off outside four churches - including the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

At least three other church-goers were killed in the Sumatran city of Pekanbaru.

In the Sumatran city of Medan, the authorities say that several bombs were discovered inside Christmas packages sent to various priests in the area.


This is an act of terror against Christians on Christmas Eve

Police Inspector Supono
Four of the dead were policemen who tried to disarm a device on Sumatra island, said the official news agency, Antara.

No group has so far said it carried out the attacks, but the BBC's Jonathan Head in Jakarta says the simultaneous timing of so many blasts is bound to throw suspicion on elements of the military.

Police at the scene of an explosion in Jakarta
Police were quickly on the scene
They have been blamed for stirring up religious conflict in Indonesia in the chaotic two years which have followed the fall of the Suharto regime.

"I am very worried that there will be religious fighting everywhere," said one worshipper, Winarno, who was in Jakarta's Catholic cathedral with his wife and two children.


The explosion was like a big firecracker and it caused panic inside

Jakarta Cathedral witness
"This is an act of terror against Christians on Christmas Eve," said police Senior Inspector Supono.

One of the explosions happened in east Jakarta at about 2000 (1300GMT) outside the church of Santa Maria, a police spokesman told the French news agency AFP.

"Forty minutes later, a second explosion took place at a bus stop in front of the Santo Yosef church," said the spokesman.

Map showing Jakarta, Sumatra
There were four explosions outside one church in the exclusive suburb of Menteng, according to one report.

Christians make up less than 5% of the population of Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim state.

Christmas celebrations are coinciding this year with the final days of Islam's holy month of Ramadan, which ends on Tuesday night.

Religious tensions

Over the past two years, escalating clashes between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia have claimed thousands of lives.

Religious tensions have risen in recent months throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

The most serious trouble has been in the Moluccan islands in Indonesia's east, where an estimated 5,000 people of both faiths have been killed in two years of sectarian violence.

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See also:

24 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Indonesian bombings
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's fragile archipelago
07 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Moluccas Christians bombed
25 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Violence flares across Indonesia
02 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Behind the Moluccan violence
14 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Moluccan militants: God on our side
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