Bomb blast kills 8 in Indonesian province
Updated: 2005-12-31 15:13
A bomb ripped through a crowded meat market in an Indonesian province that
has been plagued by sectarian violence, killing at least eight people Saturday
and wounding 45, officials said. Many of the victims were believed to be
The bomb went off in a slaughterhouse that also sold meat directly to the
public in the town of Palu on Sulawesi island. It was packed with people buying
pork for Saturday night's New Year celebrations, said Brig. Gen. Oegroseno, the
police chief of Central Sulawesi province.
The bomb appeared to be a homemade device, he said, loaded with ball bearings
and nails to maximize the number casualties.
"The explosion was so loud, I couldn't hear for a couple of seconds," said
Tega, a resident who lives nearby and uses only one name, like many Indonesians.
"I ran out of my house and saw bodies lying around."
Police officers carry a body bag containing
the body of a bombing victim at a market in Palu, central Sulawesi,
Indonesia, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005.[AP]
Television footage showed police carrying bloodied bodies into ambulances.
One man, apparently unhurt, was holding his head in his hands and screaming.
Hospital workers and intelligence officials said at least eight people died and
Oegroseno said another 45 were wounded.
Authorities had repeatedly warned in recent days that al-Qaida-linked
terrorists were plotting attacks in Indonesia over the Christmas and New Year's
holidays, prompting the government to deploy thousands of troops to guard
churches and places where foreigners gather.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the blast, and urged police to
investigate whether it was linked to other attacks on Christians in the province
earlier this year, said his spokesman Andi Mallerangang.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, and most people
practice a moderate form of the faith. But attacks against Christians have
increased in recent years amid a global rise in Islamic radicalism.
Central Sulawesi was the scene of fierce battles between Muslims and
Christians in 2001 and 2002 that killed about 1,000 people, and violence has
flared anew in recent months. Christians make up about half the population in
In October, unidentified assailants beheaded three Christian high school
girls in Poso, east of Palu. In May, two bombs in the Christian-dominated town
of Tentena killed 20 people. Police have questioned several suspects in those
attacks, but have not formally brought charges against anyone.
One Christian clergyman said Saturday he was losing patience.
"Whenever an incident takes place, senior officials ask us to tell the people
to remain unprovoked," said Rinaldy Damanik, leader of the Synod Churches of
Central Sulawesi. "When will the authorities be able to reveal the barbaric
perpetrators in the province?"
Security officials and former militants told The Associated Press in recent
interviews that terrorists linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network were
behind the renewed attacks on Christians on the island.
Jemaah Islamiyah, which has ties to al-Qaida, has been blamed for a series of
bloody bombings in Indonesia since 2000, including two strikes on Bali that
together killed 222 people, many of them foreigners. It is also accused in
Christmas Eve church bombings five years ago that left 19 dead.
Maj. Gen. Firman Gani, the Jakarta police chief, said last week that Jemaah
Islamiyah terrorists might use the holidays to retaliate for the November death
of bomb-making expert Azahari bin Husin, who was gunned down in a police raid.
On Christmas Eve, bomb squads searched for explosives at churches in the
capital Jakarta and its satellite cities, where thousands gathered to worship.
Security forces also tightly guarded dozens of churches on