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Christmas Eve bombings kill at least 15 people JAKARTA - At least 15 people were killed and dozens others injured when bombs exploded almost simultaneously outside churches in several towns in Indonesia on Sunday night as the country's minority Christian community prepared to celebrate Christmas. The casualties so far include two churchgoers and a cigarette seller in Jakarta, three in Sukabumi (West Java), including a woman and a baby after attending a church sevice in Sukabumi, five in Pekanbaru (Riau)including four police officers guarding a church, two in Bandung (West Java) and one each in Mojokerto and Sidomulyo, both in East Java.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has denounced the attacks as barbaric and a desperate attempt by certain groups to keep the nation unstable by setting Muslims against Christians. Muslim and Christian leaders have also condemned the attacks and appealed to their communities for calm and not to be provoked by the attacks. Indonesia's Muslim majority will be celebrating Idul Fitri, the end of the Ramadhan fasting month, on Wednesday. No one has so far claimed responsibility for what appeared to be a concerted attack on Chrstians as they celebrated Christmas The death toll could have been far higher had the police not intercepted parcels containing explosives that had been sent to churches in Medan, North Sumatra. All the explosives were defused.

In Jakarta, bombs exploded outside the Katedral and Canisius church, both in Central Jakarta, and Santo Yosef church in Jatinegara district in East Jakarta. They all occurred within the space of one hour on Sunday night just as the churches were holding Christmas services. Police later managed to defuse another bomb found outside the Anglican church near the Canisius church. Services had to be canceled as police combed the area. But in the Katedral, Christmas services resumed after the blast. Two victims were identified as 50-year old Roni Hariadi and 27-year old Hendra Putra, both Jakarta residents who were in the Santo Yosef church when the bomb, believed to have been placed inside a van parked near a bus shelter outside the church, exploded. The third victim was Abdul Karim, no known age, a resident of Bekasi who was running a cigarette kiosk near the bus shelter. Dozens others, churchgoers as well as passers-by, were being treated at the Ciptomangunkusumo General Hospital and the private St. Carolus hospital. Some were later discharged but 22 remained for further treatment on Sunday night. In the West Java town of Sukabumi, a woman and a baby were killed when a parcel exploded in a Kijang van belonging to a family who had just attended a Christmas mass at Gereja Sidang Kristus church exploded.

Antara did not identify the woman or the baby but said that they were members of the Priyanto Saragih family. Priyanto had discovered the parcel near his car, and thinking that it was a Christmas gift, had placed it in the dashboard of his Kijang van. The parcel exploded moments after the car left the church. Priyanto and his father were seriously injured, but his mother and a baby boy were killed. The blast also injured six people in the vicinity. Later, a second explosion blasted the Gereja Sidang Kristus on Jl. Alun-Alun Utara. There was no report of casualty except for nine injuries.

In Pekanbaru, four police officers were killed in a bomb blast that occurred at the HKBP church. The four were killed when they were inspecting a parcel found inside the church building after the congregation had left, Antara reported. It did not identify the victims but said that eight other people, including church officials, were injured. A bomb also exploded in Sidomulyo, where a group of youths were celebrating Christmas. One person, identified as Simanungkalit, was killed in the blast and five other were injured. A victim of a bomb blast in Mojokerto died in hospital half an hour past midnight on Monday. Riyanto, a member of the local Banser, a youth wing of the Nahdlatul Ulama organization, was among Banser members who volunteered to guard the Santo Yosef church on Jl. Pemuda, according Antara . He was seriously injured when a bomb exploded near the church Sunday night. He was rushed to the hospital but died a few hours later. His death was confirmed by East Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Sutanto. Details of the two casualties in Bandung were not immediately available.

Posted in General @ 25 December 2000 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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