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Indonesians welcome new year with relief JAKARTA - Indonesians heaved a sigh of great relief as they welcomed New Year's Day, grateful that days of fears of bomb attacks proved unfounded. Instead, sounds from firecracker explosions and paper trumpets filled the air, marking the arrival of a new millennium. In Pekanbaru, however, people preferred a quiet celebration and no sounds of firecrackers were heard in the city that was hit by a bomb attack last Christmas Eve. Firecracker vendors quit their business following the deadly explosion at a church in the city last Sunday.
Nine cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta, were hit by bomb attacks last Sunday, in which 17 people were killed and at least 118 people were injured. "We are afraid to sell firecrackers," said a firecracker vendor, adding that he worried about people mistaking the sound from a bomb explosion with that of a firecracker. Despite the absence of the firecrackers, Pekanbaru was cheerful on New Year's Eve, as thousands of people paraded the city's streets in cars and motorbikes. Most said owever that they preferred to be on the street to staying indoor or shops forfear of renewed bomb attacks.
A total of 1,200 policemen and 500 youths from various organizations helped maintain security as city residents welcomed the new year, Antara reported. In Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara, the young people celebrated the coming of the new millennium by holding dance and sound system contests. The city was transformed into a huge stage as nearly all neighborhood communities organized the contests to select the best dancer and the best sound system. In Bandung, thousands of people gathered at the Alun-Alun Bandung (City Square). They blew paper trumpets and sounded their cars' horns, drowning all other noises. The streets around the square were completely jammed with both people and vehicles.
No less interesting was the celebration in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, where people sounded paper trumpets and lighted firecrackers to the accompaniment of Indonesian pop songs and traditional songs. In Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara, people welcomed the new year by holding prayers at mosques and pesantren (Islamic boarding schools). Peace reigned in Ambon, where both Muslims and Christians welcomed the new year with a heavy heart.
"This year we have to celebrate (New Year's Eve) amidst a difficult time due to the prolonged conflict," Maluku Governor Saleh Latuconsina said in his New Year's speech in Ambon Sunday night. He said the ethnic and religious conflicts had caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people who also lost all their belongings. He urged the people to unite in creating a lasting peace among followers of the different religions and to reconcile. One of the largest crowds was found along the beaches in Banten, from West Banten to Carita in Pandeglang and the Salira Indah Beach in Serang, where around two million people gathered to welcome the new year.
Around 600,000 people were found at Salira Indah beach, one of the favorite tourist sites. They arrived on around 400 buses, 500 trucks and 700 private vehicles, Antara reported. Jakartans meanwhile flocked to Monas Square in Central Jakarta, the Taman Mini Indonesia Park in East Jakarta and the Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta. All three places were crowded with thousands of people celebrating the new year by sounding their trumpets and lighting firecrackers.



Posted in General @ 01 January 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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