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Press Release — January 2, 2002

New Year Greeted With Bomb Blasts In Indonesia

Bombs exploded in four churches in Palu, Central Sulawesi, shattering the welcomed peaceful calm that the Christians enjoyed this past Christmas season. The Christian minority, estimated to be about 15% of the population, packed churches in record numbers throughout Indonesia to celebrate Christmas. The bombings in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi, appear to have been carried out by Muslim terrorists in retaliation of their thwarted plans in which they had threatened a “bloody Christmas” for tens of thousands of Christians in the Poso region. A year ago, during Christmas Eve services in Jakarta and nine other cities, bomb explosions took the lives of 19 people.

The four churches that were bombed Monday night were an Adventist Church, a Presbyterian Church and two Pentecostal Churches. Reverend Yohanes Moniaga, pastor of the Ekklesia Pentecostal Church reported that a bomb exploded at seven minutes before midnight. Speaking to an ICC source in the region shortly after the explosion, Pastor Moniaga said, “It was a miracle that no one in our church was killed. As the bomb exploded, I saw people being lifted into the air. Immediately following the explosion, no one left the church. We just called on the Lord and thanked Him for His deliverance.”

Two hours after the first bomb exploded, a fourth bomb exploded at the Pantekosta church in Palu. One policeman was killed and a second policeman was injured as they attempted to remove the bomb from the church. The bomb had been hurled through a window by terrorists on motorbikes. There were at least two injuries reported in the four attacks, but miraculously there were no other fatalities, in spite of the fact that the churches were filled with hundreds of people.

Church leaders, while urging the police to act quickly to catch the perpetrators, called on Christians to remain calm and not to seek retaliation.

International Christian Concern (ICC) president Steven Snyder, after returning from a fact-finding trip to Central Sulawesi in November, has been urging U.S. involvement in pressuring the Indonesian government to combat terrorism within their borders and to bring to justice those who have been encouraging terrorism. The man said to be the largest supporter of terrorism against the Christians in Central Sulawesi and the Malukan Islands is Jafar Umar Thalib, the leader of the radical Islamic group Laskar Jihad. According to Mr. Snyder, “The evil of terrorism lurking within Islam will continue to spread if advocates of terrorism are not apprehended. Their terrorist activities will only continue to cast a dark shadow over claims that ‘Islam is a religion of peace, justice and tolerance.'”

ICC is urging Americans to protest the acts of terrorism in Indonesia by contacting Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Indonesian Embassy.

Secretary of State Colin Powell
Department of State
2201 C St. NW Suite 7276
Washington, DC 20520
Tel: 202-647-6575
Fax: 202-261-8577
Charge d’ Affairs T.A. Samodra Sriwidjaja
Embassy of Indonesia
2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-775-5200
Fax: 202-775-5365