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Wahid says bombs aim to destabilise govt JAKARTA - Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said on Monday a spate of church bombings on Christmas Eve which killed at least 10 people, was an attempt to destabilise his already troubled government. "Their steps are to destabilise the government and create fear and panic," he told reporters before flying to the eastern province of Irian Jaya for Christmas celebrations.

The close timing of so many blasts outside churches in Jakarta and other cities points to a coordinated campaign of terror but there was no word on who was responsible and the president did not specifically accuse anyone. Wahid, who is facing mounting calls to quit or face impeachment, also said the explosions were a blatant attack on the country's minority Christian community.

"Clearly this is an attempt to destroy Christians by using Islam," he said. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country with an estimated 90 percent of its 210 million people followers of Islam. The attacks add to Wahid's myriad problems as he struggles to end the political and economic crisis which has dogged the country for three years. He called for calm and expressed his sympathy to the victims' families.

"For the dead, on behalf of the government and Indonesia I offer my deepest condolences and to those who are hurt, I express my deepest sympathy," he added. The explosions, which killed three in the capital and also claimed lives in towns in east and west Java and in the Sumatran province of Riau, were timed to strike as churchgoers celebrated mass on Sunday night. Jakarta police chief, Inspector-General Mulyono Sulaiman said some 17,500 security personnel would be on stand-by to safeguard churches and other places of worship after the explosions.

Bombs no deterance

But the explosions did not deter Christians from attending mass celebrations on Monday. Hundreds flocked to the main Catholic cathedral in Jakarta -- one of the targets of Sunday's attack -- amid tight security. Dozens of police screened people before entering the church compound which lies opposite the country's main mosque. At least one blast in Jakarta appeared to be caused by a car bomb which destroyed several surrounding cars outside a Catholic college in the city centre, witnesses said. The official Antara news agency said more bombs had exploded in other parts of the country and officials in the city of Medan said they had found 11 unexploded bombs in Christmas parcels sent to priests.

In Medan, in North Sumatra, police said they discovered bombs inside Christmas packages which had been sent to various priests in the predominantly Christian city. The attacks follow a series of bomb blasts in Jakarta this year, though none of those had any obvious religious links.

They also come towards the end of the Islamic fasting month which has been marked in Jakarta by a number of attacks by Muslim fundamentalists on bars and nightspots. Indonesia has been plagued by sectarian violence, especially in the eastern spice islands where thousands have died in two years of fighting between Christians and Muslims.



Posted in General @ 25 December 2000 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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