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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Indonesia hunts bomb suspects
Muslim burn a billboard proclaiming the recent peace deal between warring Christians and Muslims in Ambon city
Authorities say the bomb was aimed at disrupting peace
Indonesian police suspect three people of masterminding a bomb attack that killed four people in the eastern city of Ambon, the Jakarta Post newspaper has reported.

Residents survey the damage at the site of a bomb blast in Ambon city
The bomb exploded in a central street
The police chief on the Moluccan islands where the bomb exploded, Brigadier General Sunarko Danu Ardianto, said the bombers were "inhuman and uncivilised" and vowed to hunt them down.

The blast on Wednesday injured more than 50 people and triggered angry protests in which part of the provincial governor's office was burned down.

The authorities said it was an attempt to wreck a peace deal between Christians and Muslims.

The three suspects have been identified only by their initials - OP, Z and J. The police chief said they had been identified from statements by five people detained for questioning.

"They are extremely savage. They hurled a bomb into a crowd," said Military Commander Brigadier General Mustopo.

Angry protests

The bombing was the first serious violation of a ceasefire deal signed in February after three years of Muslim-Christian violence that left thousands dead.

Provincial governor Saleh Latuconsina on Wednesday said there were "indications" about who was behind the attack.

"We all know those people who do not want to accept the Malino [peace] agreement," he said.

The device exploded in a Christian-controlled part of Ambon, sparking angry protests from residents, who converged on the governor's office, setting fire to the building.

The bomb exploded on a central shopping street, close to the governor's office.

There were a number of minor bomb blasts in the Moluccas following the peace treaty. Senior government officials blamed the attacks on paramilitaries opposed to the deal.

Muslim militants belonging to a group called Laskar Jihad have vowed to disrupt the peace process.

Weapons surrender

Muslim-Christian violence broke out in 1999 - sparked by a minor traffic accident - and led to more than 5,000 deaths. Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes.

The violence worsened in 2000 with the arrival of the Java-based Laskar Jihad. Under the February peace deal, there is to be an inquiry into the group's activities as well as into two Christian separatist groups.

Since the peace deal the region has been fairly calm, with both Muslim and Christian communities agreeing to hand over their weapons.

Muslims and Christians mingled freely for the first time in years after the accord, hugging each other and shaking hands.

The numbers of Christians and Muslims are almost evenly split in the Moluccas, while Indonesia as a whole is 85% Muslim.

The BBC's Jonathan Head
"It took just one bomb to wreck the fragile peace"
See also:

03 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bomb blast in the Moluccas
28 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Deadly foes embrace in Ambon
14 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bomb blasts follow Moluccan peace deal
12 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Moluccan peace deal
20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sulawesi factions agree peace plan
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Laskar Jihad?
26 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Troubled history of the Moluccas
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