News / Asia

Indonesian Police Link Church, Mosque Bombings

A policeman stands guard as residents watch the site of an explosion in front of a church in Solo, Central Java September 25, 2011.
A policeman stands guard as residents watch the site of an explosion in front of a church in Solo, Central Java September 25, 2011.
Kate Lamb

A suicide bomb attack on a church in Central Java, Indonesia, Sunday is raising new concerns over sectarian violence. Following a string of religious hate crimes against Christians and minority groups across the country this year, analysts blame splinter jihadists for Sunday’s attacks.

Witnesses said the suicide bomber mingled among the crowd at Bethel Injil Sepenuh Christian Church in Kepunton, Solo, before detonating the bomb that killed himself and wounded at least 20 others.

National police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam says DNA results confirming the identity of the bomber will be released Tuesday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the violence in a televised address Sunday. He admitted that terrorism in Indonesia remains a very real threat.

The president speculated on the bomber's jihadist links, saying it was likely he was connected to a network in Cirebon, which carried out a similar attack on a mosque this May.

Since last June, more than 10 suspected militants have been captured or killed in police raids in Central Java, which is also home to the Ngruki Islamic boarding school founded by convicted militant Abu Bakar Bashir.

Security analyst Noor Huda Ismail says Solo has long been identified as an active militant recruitment center, but not a place for terrorist attacks. 

"Central Java and specifically Solo is historically a place for jihadists to get new recruits but they never consider this area as a place where they can put into practice radical teachings," he said. "So this is a test that people behind this attack didn't have enough commitment to people in this area because usually they strengthen their cause here in these two areas but put their ideology into practice outside of Java, such as in Ambon, Poso, Jakarta or Bali."

While analysts are reluctant to suggest that extremism is on the rise in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, Sunday's attack, he says, is likely to be the work of splinter jihadists. He says these could include disgruntled members of organizations such as Jeemah Islamiyah and Darual Islam who are disappointed that their leaders are not actively pursuing jihad.

Ismail says the suicide bombing in Solo may have been sparked by sectarian clashes in Ambon, which resulted in the deaths of more than five people on September 11 this year.

"The reason why they attack Christian groups, especially churches, has to do with what is happening now in Ambon, where they believe Muslims are being oppressed in that area. Seven were killed, hundreds of houses being burnt but there was no intervention from the government," he noted. "There are individuals within the network that really really want to do real jihad, action jihad, and what they need is a trigger and Ambon is a clear trigger for this."

Sidney Jones, a terrorism analyst from the International Crisis Group, says it is still premature to link Sunday’s attack to other attacks between Muslims and Christians in recent weeks. But she says there are signs that radical groups are trying to capitalize on the violence.

"I think there might be a possible motivation for targeting a church but we won't know until the investigation is fully underway," said Jones. "There has been a lot of material on radical websites expressing anger toward Crusader Christians and things like this and holding them responsible for the unrest, so it wouldn't surprise if there was a link but we will have to wait and see."

During his nationwide address Sunday, Indonesia’s president called for an intensive investigation into terrorist networks in Solo and also instructed the police to investigate its own personnel. Such quick action from the government is one sign that they worry the violence could spread.

Gregory Fealy is an associate professor at the Australian National University, who specializes in Islamist movements in Indonesia. He says the government is also concerned about how the violence is perceived abroad.

“I think this is a case where the government will react pretty swiftly because it is politically sensitive," said Fealy. "If Christians are being attacked in Indonesia, it often leads to international pressure on Indonesia and the Christian community itself is reasonably well connected politically, although it is numerically small compared to the Muslim community, nonetheless it is regarded as a community that the national government should go to all lengths to protect. They don’t always do that for some of the minority religious groups.”

Members of Indonesia’s minority Muslim sect Ahmadiyah have also suffered attacks in the past year. However that violence has not been met by a firm government response. Human Rights Watch says there were at least 50 acts of violence committed against Ahmadiyah members in the past year. But those convicted in attacks have received relatively light prison sentences.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid