12/20/2006, 00.00
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Risk of anti-Christian attack growing as Christmas approaches

Bomb threat made against Christian radio in Jakarta. More than 18,000 police officers will be deployed to protect places of worship across the Indonesian capital. Tensions are running high in Poso.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Christian radio station is threatened whilst authorities increase security details around Christian places of worship and community centres as fears of Christmas attacks grow.

On Saturday afternoon Radio Pelita Kasih, which is in Dewi Sartika in eastern Jakarta, received a phone call that threatened a bomb attack. Police and the bomb squad inspected the premises but found nothing. The radio station broadcast Christian music and religious programmes.

On Monday, Colonel Ketut Untung Yoga, spokesman for the police, announced that 18,000 police officers would be deployed to protect thousands of churches and other religious sites in Jakarta for fear of attacks by Islamic extremists. “Places of worship are our priority,” Yoga said.

In 2000 a series of coordinated bombs killed 19 people during the Christmas season.

On December 31, 2005, a market in a Christian area in the city of Palu (Sulawesi) was the scene of another attack that left seven people dead.

In both cases Jemaah Islamyah, a militant Islamist group thought to be linked with al-Qaeda, was blamed.

Other major attacks attributed to Jemaah Islamyah occurred in Bali, in 2002, which killed 202 people; at the Marriot Hotel, a place with many Western guests, in 2003; against the Australian Embassy in 2004; and again in Bali, in 2005.

Security has also been stepped in Poso (Sulawesi) where violence against Christians has flared several times and where three Catholics, sentenced to death for their alleged role in the death of Muslims during religious riots, were executed on September 22.

Catholics objected to the sentence arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove their guilt and that the trial fell short of meeting standards of justice since the rights of the defence were not fully upheld.

In the meantime, the US Embassy in Jakarta put out a warning, saying that “there is a real threat against the safety of Americans and other Westerners in Indonesia.” It listed as possible targets hotels, business centres, transportation sites, places of worship and any crowed area. (PB)

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