Arrests in Indonesian Muslim-Christian conflict zone
Indonesian police have arrested 24 people in an area of the country where there has been a history of sectarian violence between Mulsims and Christians.
Those detained are suspected of involvement in a string of bombings against civilians, including the 2002 Bali blasts and a lethal attack on a major Jakarta hotel in 2003, reports AAP.
The suspects were arrested in raids over the last few days by counter-terrorism police near Poso, in central Sulawesi. Clashes between Muslims and Christians in central Sulawesi have left more than 1,000 people dead in recent years.
The police actions follows a recent blast at a local market, which killed 21 people and injured more than 50 others, mostly Christians. At the time, as Ekklesia reported, Church leaders called on Christians not to retaliate.
'The terrorists want us to perform violent acts to return the region to chaos,' said Rinaldy Damanik, the leader of the Synod Churches of Central Sulawesi. 'We must stay calm.'
Following this week's arrests, police sources told the Indonesian media yesterday that many of the suspects had been preparing to travel to the Philippines to escape arrest or undergo military training.
The authorities have blamed activists linked to the South-East Asian Jemaah Islamiah group, which allegedly has ties to al-Qaeda.
Last month's Tentena market bombing was blamed on a cell headed by Indonesia's most hunted man - Azahari bin Husin - and militant recruiter Noordin Mohamed Top.
The latest arrests included suspects linked to the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed a total of 202 people, as well as the 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in central Jakarta.