Indonesian Army Members Behind Christmas Bombings

16 Deaths from Attacks in 10 Cities

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JAKARTA, Indonesia, JAN. 7, 2001 ( Indonesian Army Special Forces were behind deadly bombings in 10 towns in Indonesia on Christmas Eve, according to the Fides agency. The attacks killed 16 people and injured almost 100.

According to Fides sources, a member of the National Defense Forces managed to infiltrate the Franciscan community in Karmat, Jakarta. When the police were informed, the man was arrested as a suspect in the attack on the cathedral of Jakarta on Christmas Eve.

The man who was living in the Franciscan´s house, gave his name as Hieronymus, but according to identity papers found later in his room, he is Khairullah, resident at Serang, a new province of Banten, West Java.

Jesuit Fr. Sandyawan Sumardi said a police officer gave a tip-off that the man was an intelligence serviceman from the Indonesian Army Special Forces. The priest, who supports the «Indonesia Damai», a network for investigation and political pressure over the bombing, told Fides the man had inside information about the church site, since he joined the Cathedral church´s crew of workers on 23 December before the explosion.

Police later claimed the man was «insane». However the lawyer Munir, secretary of the «Indonesia Damai,» called for further investigation. He said that infiltration also took place in other locations of the bombings around other churches. The Franciscan brother who accepted the man told Fides he could hardly believe the developments of the case of «Hieronymus», because the man had presented himself as a sympathizer of the Order, interested in possibly becoming a Franciscan. He said Hieronymus helped to prepare the Christmas celebration in the areas of decoration and security.

The active involvement of the security forces in Christmas bombing of churches has been confirmed by Indonesia´s defence minister Muhammad Mahfud. He said that former soldiers of the National Defense Forces are being investigated. The defense minister affirmed the same people were behind bombings in 1998 which killed Muslim clerics in east, central and west Java provinces. The perpetrators are said to be practicioners of the black arts. Without mentioning any names, Mahfud implied the involvement of former generals. Observers suspect General Hartono, former army chief and interior minister, known to be close to the Golkar party and the family of former dictator Suharto.

The Catholic Bishops of Indonesia agree that powerful groups are behind the violence. An official statement of the Bishops´ Conference says, «Behind the deftly-planned and executed bombings there is a well-organized, highly influential power, possessing a network and funds.»

Three almost simultaneous bomb blasts at 9 a.m., December 24, devastated three Catholic installations: the gothic Cathedral in Central Jakarta, St. Joseph´s parish church, and the Kanisius Menteng Jesuit high school. A little later another bomb exploded near the Koinonia Protestant church in east Jakarta. Police found several bombs in other cities, such as Pakanbaru and Medan, Sumatra; Batam, south of Singapore; Sukabumi and Bandung, West Java; Mojokerto, East Java and Mataram, West Nusatenggara.

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