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Terrorist manhunt after shop bombing

Advertiser Adelaide ( Australia ) 1/2/06


INDONESIAN security forces have raided several buildings and detained a man in the hunt for the suspected Islamic militants who bombed a Christian market on Sulawesi island, killing eight people and underscoring the ongoing battle against terror in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Forensic experts picked through the debris left by Saturday’s blast in Palu, central Indonesia – the scene of clashes between Muslims and Christians that left about 1000 people dead in 2000 and 2001.

The bombing, which injured more than 50 people, followed repeated warnings that terrorists from the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group were planning fresh attacks against Christian and Western targets over the holiday season.

The early-morning explosion sent nails and ball bearings tearing into market vendors and shoppers who were busy preparing for New Year’s Eve celebrations. The market sold only pork and dog, consumption of which is forbidden under Islam.

Police were checking all vehicles leaving and entering Palu yesterday as intelligence officers worked behind the scenes, said Sulawesi police spokesman Adam Rais.

Officers were intensively questioning one man arrested close to the scene of the blast.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the blast, which occurred despite heightened security nationwide. More than 47,000 soldiers and police had been deployed throughout the country to try to prevent Christmas and New Year’s attacks.

Security Minister Widodo Adisucipto said the bombing was linked to terrorist groups “operating in the country”. He refused to elaborate, but suspicion immediately fell on militants from or linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, which has been blamed for a series of bombings in Indonesia since 2000, including two strikes on the resort island of Bali that killed 222 people, many of them foreigners.

It is also accused of Christmas Eve church bombings that left 19 dead five years ago. – AP