January 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 6
Indonesia Christmas Bomber Infiltrates Franciscan Community

    JAKARTA, Jan. 5, 01 ( Indonesian Army Special Forces are behind deadly bombings in 10 towns in Indonesia in Christmas Eve that killed 16 people and injured almost 100, according to Christian sources in the Asian country.

    A suspected member of the National Defence Forces was found to have infiltrated the Karmat Franciscan community in Central Java. On December 31, Jakarta police detained a man thought to be involved in the Christmas Eve bomb explosion in Jakarta Cathedral. The man, who was living in the Franciscans' house, gave his name as Hieronymus, but according to identity papers found later in his room, his name is Khairullah.

    Father Sandyawan Sumardi, SJ, said a police officer gave a tip-off that the man was an intelligence officer 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 December 23 before the explosion.

    Police later claimed the man was "insane." However, the secretary of the Indonesia Damai called for further investigation. He said that infiltration took place also in other bombing locations at churches. The Indonesia Damai includes pro-democratic activists and reformists.

    Franciscan monk Cyprianus, who accepted the man, told Fides he could hardly believe the development of the case of "Hieronymus," as the man presented himself as a sympathizer of the Order, interested in possibly becoming a Franciscan. Cyprianus said Hieronymus helped to prepare the Christmas celebration with decoration and security. Only later, while searching the man's room, Cyprianus found an identity card with the name of Khairullah, which the community handed over to the police.

    The Catholic Bishops of Indonesia agree that powerful groups are behind the violence. An official statement of the Bishops' Conference said: "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 about on Christmas Eve devastated three Catholic churches: 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 like Pakanbaru and Medan in Sumatra; Batam, south of Singapore; Sukabumi and Bandung in West Java; Mojokerto in East Java; and Mataram in West Nusatenggara.

For other news stories, see

January 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 6
News on the Church in the USA

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