BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Jonathan Head, in Jakarta
"This was a well planned bombing campaign"
 real 56k

Father Frans Magnisusayno
"There could be a second wave of bombings"
 real 28k

Government spokesman Wimar Witoelar
"The government is trying its best"
 real 28k

Monday, 25 December, 2000, 14:36 GMT
Church bombings prompt calls for calm
A Muslim woman mourns a Christian casualty of a Jakarta church bombing
A Muslim woman mourns a Christian casualty of a church bombing
Indonesia's President Wahid has called for calm after the Christmas Eve bombing of Christian churches across the country, accusing his opponents of trying to destabilise the country.


Their steps are to destabilise the government and create fear and panic

President Abdurrahman Wahid
At least 14 people were killed in seven different towns and cities, mostly as they attended late-night mass.

In an unusual move, Pope John Paul II said in his Christmas message that he was "thinking particularly of Indonesia, where our brothers and sisters in faith, even on this Christmas day, are undergoing a tragic time of trial and suffering."

It is rare for the Pope to mention a specific country by name in his Christmas message.

Low turnout

On Christmas day some churches were only half full, because of fears of new attacks, and police searched worshippers' bags.

Indonesia's chief security minister said police intelligence suggested similar bombings were being planned at other places of worship.

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

"Their steps are to destabilise the government and create fear and panic," said President Abdurrahman Wahid, who is under pressure to resign because of the worsening political and economic situation in the country.

Co-ordinated campaign

"For the dead, on behalf of the government and Indonesia I offer my deepest condolences," he added.

His call for calm was echoed by several religious leaders.

Church blasts
Jakarta
5 blasts, 3 dead
Pekanbaru, Sumatra
7 dead
Sukabumi, W Java
3 dead
Mojokerto, E Java
1 dead
Blasts also in
Medan, Sumatra
Batam island
Bandung, W Java
Mataram, Lombok island
Cardinal Julius Darmoatmodjo, Jakarta's most senior Catholic leader, asked Christians not to accuse anyone, still less another religion.

"Even if we know who is behind the bombings, I urge all Christians to forgive," he said.

He also said that Muslim passers-by had been among the casualties.

The blasts happened within minutes of each other in what appeared to be a co-ordinated campaign of terror, police said.

No group has so far said it carried out the attacks, which coincided with the final days of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

In a statement, Laskar Jihad, a Muslim paramilitary group accused of past sectarian violence, denied involvement and said the bombings were "immoral and politically motivated".

Retaliation fear

There were fears that outraged Christians might retaliate against Muslims at the start of the feast of Eid al-Fitr on Tuesday night.

Map showing Jakarta, Sumatra
"What I am very worried about is that this is only the beginning," said Asmara Nababan, secretary-general of the National Commission on Human Rights.

The Moluccan Islands, part of the Indonesian archipelago, have been riven by Christian-Muslim violence since Eid al-Fitr 1999.

On Monday a 12-year-old boy was reported to have been shot and wounded by an unknown gunman as he left Christmas Day mass in Ambon city, the capital of the Moluccas.

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

Three of the victims were killed in Jakarta, where bombs went off outside four churches - including the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Military suspected

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

Police at the scene of an explosion in Jakarta
Police were quickly on the scene
In the Sumatran city of Medan, the authorities say that several bombs were discovered inside Christmas packages sent to various priests in the area.

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

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.

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.

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

In the Moluccas an estimated 5,000 people of both faiths have been killed over the last two years.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
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
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories