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Press Release — June 5, 2002

Indonesia: Bomb on Bus Kills 4

(ICC–Washington, DC–June 5, 2002) Terrorist and suicide bombings of buses in Israel frequently are reported by the foreign press, but rarely such acts of terrorism in Indonesia are reported.

Today, in route to Tentena, South Sulawesi Island, an Antariksa bus in route from the island’s southern capital city of Palu to Tentena was blown apart by a bomb that had been planted under a seat in the bus. Two of the company’s buses were traveling together, when at the town of Toini, about 5 miles from the city of Poso, the first bus with about 45 passengers on board was ripped apart by one of two bombs planted on the bus. All 45 passengers targeted by the unknown terrorists were Christians. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The second bus left the scene without incident and immediately went to Poso to report the bombing to the police. According to the police, two bombs were placed in the bus, but the one placed in the front, near the driver, failed to explode. Only the bomb located under the second seat from the rear of the bus exploded. It was reported that the bomb had to have been rather large to have torn off the right and left walls of the bus, as well as the roof and the floor.

Four people were confirmed dead at the scene, two men, one a Pentecostal pastor from Palu, and the second from Watuauw village, near Tentena, and two women. The body of one of the women was so badly mutilated that she could not be identified. A total of 17 were injured, two last report to be in critical condition, including a mother and her child.

As the result of a peace agreement between Muslims and Christians, the final withdrawal of Indonesian military troops in Central Sulawesi is underway, with the final withdrawal of the remaining troops to be completed by June 12.

Replacing the military will be approximately 400 police or BRIMOB officers from the city of Manado, North Sulawesi province. With Muslim terrorist groups such as the Laskar Jihad having refused to honor the peace imitative, and having come from outside the area, they still remain a present danger to the Christians in the region.

The situation in Tentena, where tens of thousands of Christians have already fled after their villages were destroyed by raiding Muslim jihad forces, is once again tense. The mostly Christian population is bracing for more attacks. Muslim jihad checkpoints are once again in place and are controlling all traffic in and out of Tentena.