Bombs Rock Indonesia Christmas Celebrations

ByABC News
December 24, 2000, 12:45 PM

J A K A R T A, Indonesia, Dec. 25 -- Indonesias chief securityminister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned today of thepossibility of more bombings less than 24 hours after a seriesof blasts.

On Christmas Eve, bombs exploded outside churches in Jakarta and five other Indonesian cities and towns, killing at least 14 people, injuring dozens and worsening the already difficult relations between Muslims and Christiansthroughout the fractured archipelago.

The blasts, including one outside Jakartas main Roman Catholicchurch near the presidential palace and the main mosque, happenedas prayer services were about to get under way Sunday evening local time. Theexplosions set cars ablaze and damaged some churches.

Information from police intelligence indicates that therecould be similar bombings at other places of worship and atother public facilities, Yudhoyono told reporters.

He said the blasts were an act of terrorism, designed tostir religious tensions.

Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid said the bombs in Jakarta andother cities were an attempt to destabilize his already troubledgovernment.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but religiousviolence and tensions have been rising throughout thispredominantly Muslim country. Although most of the violence hastaken place in the Moluccan islands, Muslim vigilante groups haverecently attacked restaurants and nightclubs in Jakarta, thecapital.

Acts of Violence Target Christians

Wahid, who is a Muslim scholar, hasadvocated religious tolerance, but Sundays attacks add to a longlist of crises and acts of violence that have worsened during his14-month rule.

Five Catholic and Protestant churches were targeted in Jakarta,where three people were killed. The Jakarta bombs exploded withinan hour and a radius of about a mile.

The bomb that exploded near the Roman Catholic Cathedral,thought to have been planted in a parked car, left worshippersshaken.

I was in the cathedral with my wife and two children. I heardthe explosion. I am very worried that there will be religiousfighting everywhere, said Winarno, who goes by only onename.