Christians condemn attack on mosque


Whatever the motivation, it was an irresponsible act, says the Indonesian Church Committee. Wiranto says the blast aimed to undermine the polls.

CHRISTIANS in Indonesia yesterday condemned a bomb blast in the country’s largest mosque and urged restraint as a mob ran amok and set fire to a church in South Sulawesi, sparking fears that a violent backlash was under way.

A statement from the Indonesian Church committee said: “We condemn whoever is responsible for the explosion. It was an irresponsible act, whether it had a criminal or political motive.

“We pray for strength for our Muslim brothers and for peace and calm to face this hard challenge.”

A bomb blast rocked the Al-Istiqlal mosque on Monday, wounding at least three people.

More than 20 offices in the mosque complex were wrecked in the explosion, which several Indonesian leaders said was aimed at driving a wedge between religious groups in the country.

President B.J. Habibie said that it was an attempt to create religious and ethnic conflicts in Indonesia.

State Secretary Akbar Tandjung went a step further by suggesting that the blast was intended to undermine the upcoming polls.

The police and military authorities have yet to declare any suspects or arrest anyone connected with the incident.

The Jakarta Post reported yesterday that preliminary investigations revealed that two men fled the scene on a motorcycle moments after the blast.

Informed sources said that the perpetrators were linked to a right-wing Muslim organisation called the Angkatan Mujahidin Islam Nusantara or Amin, which is linked to a larger outfit called Warsidi with ties to an influential army general.

They said that while the political motivations for the blast appeared to be that of undermining the general election, the more specific aim was tied to rivalry and factionalism within the armed forces (Abri), principally between military chief Wiranto and another senior officer being edged out in the power constellation.

Proponents of this view argue that the objective was to discredit Gen Wiranto for his failure to keep the peace and to signal to him that there could be more havoc.

A litany of failures would only force Dr Habibie to replace him at some point.

Gen Wiranto responded angrily to the blast but did not hint at possible perpetrators.

He told reporters yesterday that it was an intentional act “to ruin world confidence in Indonesia when such confidence was just beginning to grow back”.

His comments followed the burning of a church in the city of Ujung Pandang in South Sulawesi.

Security forces fires warning shots to disperse the mob of 1,000. At least two people were wounded.

Monday’s explosion and the subsequent events in Ujung Pandang rocked the stock market. Share prices skidded by nearly 6 per cent.

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