12/03/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA

Yogyakarta, foiled attack on Catholic shrine

by Mathias Hariyadi
The target of the bomb attack were hundreds of pilgrims expected for the monthly Mass at the shrine of the Virgin Mary. Perpetrators behind the planned attack still unknown, but police reveal that they are experts. The shrine, founded in 1936, is an important pilgrimage site for Catholics of Prambanan.

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) - In the courtyard of the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Sendand Sriningsih (District of Prambanan, Yogyakarta) a disabled child discovered four bottles filled with gasoline, cables and detonators, last December 1. According to local Catholics and Mr. Ignatius Lastoyo Warne, site manager of the sanctuary, the bomb had a specific purpose: to kill hundreds of pilgrims from neighboring parishes who attended the monthly Mass in the shrine town, on December 2. Search operations are still ongoing.

The discovery of these four homemade bombs occurred when a local Catholic, owner of a stall near the shrine, found his son playing with the suspect material: fluid-filled bottles, cables and detonators. The bombs failed to explode only because of human imprudence. The village chief, after seeing the bomb, called the police and military personnel, who immediately rushed to the scene.

Mgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, Archbishop of Semarang, has asked the site manager to implement tighter security measures to avoid any provocative behavior by foreign "infiltrators". He said: "This is a serious challenge; we must fight any behavior that can destroy religious harmony."

Brigadier General Ondang Sutarsa, Yogyakarta police chief, confirmed that the materials found near the shrine of the Virgin Mary were used to create a bomb. During a press conference, the general explained: "This is a bomb is small, but highly flammable, since the cable was attached to bottles full of petrol." Gunpowder and matches were also found on the site.

Any Pudjiastuti, a police spokesman, said: "We do not yet have concrete evidence on who is responsible. But it is very clear that these are experienced people, since the materials were well assembled. "

The shrine of the Virgin Mary was founded in 1936, when Fr Harjosuwondo, a Jesuit from the parish of Wedi, Mr. Wongsosentono, local village chief, and Bei Sutopanitro, catechist, decided to create a place of pilgrimage for Catholics in Prambanan.

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