Police probe Indonesia bombings

Forensic scientists have examined the debris after two bombs ripped through a market in a Christian dominated town in Indonesia, killing at least 20 people.

    Blasts are reportedly not related to local sectarian tensions

    Church leaders called for calm in the aftermath of the blasts, which were blamed on Muslim extremists. They were the deadliest attack in the world's most populous Muslim nation since the 2002 nightclub bombings on Bali island.

    At Tentena's only hospital, nuns led special prayers and sang hymns in wards crowded with the wounded. Doctors who had been working through the night complained of a shortage
    of medicines and surgeons.

    Conflict area

    Tentena is on Sulawesi Island, where fighting between Muslims and Christians claimed at least 1000 lives between 2000 and 2002, and attracted Muslim militants from around Indonesia, some of whom went on to join the Jemaah Islamiyah group blamed for the Bali attack, security officials say.

    The majority of the dead were
    Indonesian Christians

    "The bodies were lying everywhere. Some lost their legs or their arms," said Eman Longkar, who witnessed the blasts on Saturday and retrieved the corpse of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl from beneath the wreckage.

    Witnesses said many of the victims had come to help those wounded in the first explosion, only to be killed about 15 minutes later by a larger explosion that left a one-metre deep crater and damaged part of the market.

    Church and hospital officials in Tentena said 20 people had died, but Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said on Saturday that 22 people had perished. It was unclear who was correct.

    Christians targeted

    Nineteen of the dead were Christians, the hospital said.

    One identified and unclaimed corpse lay in the hospital's mortuary covered by a bloody sheet.

    Susilo ordered police to arrest
    the perpetrators 

    On Sunday, police experts from Jakarta took traces of explosives from the crater and took photos of the debris. Bloody sandals and clothing remained amid fruit, vegetables and dried fish.

    In the hospital, worried relatives sat close to their loved ones saying prayers.

    "I hope the perpetrators will be arrested soon," said Gefri Galombe, a 32-year-old student with shrapnel wounds on his leg.

    "God will avenge the perpetrators of this attack, not us."

    Susilo's orders 

    Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is on a state visit to Vietnam, said he had ordered police to arrest the perpetrators, but declined to speculate on the identity of the attackers.

    "The Christian people here do not want revenge"

    Police Sergeant Sumondak

    "I don't want to be too hasty in saying who did this, but what is clear is that I have instructed all the relevant parties to arrest the perpetrators," he was quoted as saying on Sunday by state news agency Antara.

    'Just wait and see.'

    Muslims account for 90% and Christians about 8% of the people in Indonesia. But central Sulawesi and other outlying areas have roughly equal Muslim and Christian populations.

    Attacks against Christians have increased since Suharto's downfall in 1998. Suharto enforced secularism as part of national security policies.

    Tensions high

    Rinaldy Damanik, a Christian clergyman and leader of the Synod Churches of Central Sulawesi, called on Christians in the region not to retaliate for the blasts. "That is what the terrorists want us to do," he said. "Still, there is a limit to the patience of the people."

    Others were also careful not to fan already deep tensions.
    "The Christian people here do not want revenge," said
    police Sergeant Sumondak.

    Saturday's blasts came just two days after warnings of unspecified attacks prompted the United States to close its embassy and other diplomatic offices in Indonesia until further notice.

    Police said they did not know of any specific threats against Americans, but that they had intelligence indicating that Malaysian terror suspects Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top might be planning more attacks.

    Their targets are typically Western-related.

    National police spokesman Major General Anang Budihardjo, said he could not rule out the possibility that Azahari had
    played a role in the latest Poso bombing.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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