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Two churches attacked in South Sulawesi

  • Andi Hajramurni

    The Jakarta Post

Makassar | Mon, February 11 2013 | 08:55 am

Religious intolerance continues to cast its dark shadow over the country as two churches in Makassar, South Sulawesi, were attacked with Molotov cocktails on Sunday morning, only a few hours before regular Sunday services commenced.

The attack on the Tiatira Church, located on Jl. Masjid Muhajirin, occurred at around 3 a.m. local time. The attack caused no damage.

Meanwhile, the Toraja Mamasa Church (GTM), on Jl. Dirgantara, suffered damage to its gate and name board after unidentified people threw two Molotov cocktails at the building at around 4:15 a.m.

South Sulawesi Police spokesman Endi Sutendi said the police were seeking the perpetrators as well as the motive behind the attacks.

“We are currently investigating the case. We have questioned witnesses,” said Endi on Sunday, adding that no casualties were reported.

Some residents living near Tiatira Church reportedly heard an explosion, but only discovered the cause when Moses, a janitor at the church, was about to clean the church in the morning.

No one appears to have seen the perpetrators.

As for the attack on Toraja Mamasa, it is reported that two witnesses saw the attack. The witnesses, Jordi and Gamaliel, said that three men rode up on motorcycles and threw Molotov cocktails at the church.

Jordi and Gamaliel called for help when the makeshift bomb set fire to the church gate and its name board. Local residents were able to put out the fire within a few minutes.

“This is clearly an act of terror conducted by a number of people who intend to cause fear among residents,” said Endi.

Despite the security threat, the congregations of both churches apparently remained calm as they were seen attending the Sunday services as usual.

Makassar Mayor Ilham Arief Sirajuddin and Makassar Legislative Council (DPRD) speaker Farouk Daeng Beta condemned the incidents.

“These people [the perpetrators] were out to destroy the peace of Makassar for their own vested interests,” said Ilham.

Farouk agreed. “The police have to immediately solve this crime before this case turns into a bigger conflict [involving religion, race and societal groups],” he said, calling on Makassar people, especially Christians, not to be easily provoked following the attacks.

Ilham urged the police to beef up the security at places of worship in anticipation of any possible security threats.

In the past few years, a number of cities throughout the country have seen bomb attacks on places of
worship.

In December, 2012, a homemade bomb, that reportedly contained 500 grams of nails, was found in the backyard of Salaon Toba Catholic Church in Samosir Island, while in September 2011, 22 people were injured when a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside Sepenuh Injil Bethel Church (GBIS) in Surakarta, Central Java.

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