ICC Note: A possible bomb was discovered early on Easter Sunday at a church on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. Thankfully, the suspicious package was discovered by security before Easter celebrations began. At the turn of the century, widespread attacks over the course of several years on Christian homes and churches took place on islands across Indonesia, leaving thousands of Christians dead. Occasional bomb threats against Christian churches and communities are still relatively frequent in some areas.
4/21/2014 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe) – Celebrations of Easter in Indonesia were marred by the discovery of a suspected bomb at a Christian school in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and the continued barring of two West Java congregations from their own churches.
Some 150 personnel from the Jakarta Police, the city’s public order agency, or Satpol PP, and the military were on hand for Easter Mass at the Jakarta Cathedral on Sunday.
Comr. Shinto Silitonga, the chief of police of Sawah Besar precinct, where Indonesia’s biggest Catholic church is located, said there were no security disruptions reported on the day.
He added that security personnel had been posted inside and outside the church, including in the parking lot, where they looked for suspicious packages.
In Balikpapan, however, Easter Mass at a church adjoining the Kalimantan International Christian School had to be postponed after officials discovered a suspicious package believed to be an explosive device in the school.
Police said the device consisted of two motorcycle batteries connected to a box with electrical cables.
Anton, a security officer at the school, said he came upon the package during a patrol at around 3 a.m., just a few hours before worshipers were expected to start arriving.
“I heard the sounds of two people talking in the bushes outside the school building, and when I went to check they ran away,” he said.
He said they left behind the package. He said that when he saw the electrical cables, he ran for help.
The police’s bomb squad arrived at the scene and set up a secure perimeter around the school and church before setting to work trying to determine what was in the package. Comr. M. Amir, the Balikpapan Police chief, said the bomb squad managed to clear the package away safely, but could not confirm whether it was an explosive device, pending more tests.
The Easter service, which was supposed to have started at 9:30 a.m., had to be delayed to 11:30 p.m. to ensure that the area was all clear, Amir added.