Laskar Jihad likely culprits in Indonesian bus bombing; Central Sulaweisi pastor martyred

Sunday, February 10, 2002

Sources of the The Voice of the Martyrs in Indonesia say members of the militant Islamic group Laskar Jihad are likely responsible for a bus bomb blast near Poso on Wednesday. VOM has learned more details about the attack that killed at least four people and injured 17 others.

"Two men wearing military fatigues got off the bus about 10-15 minutes before the explosion," said one VOM source. "Twenty-four people were riding in the bus and all of them were Christians. One bomb was placed in the front of the bus and another in the back. Only one bomb exploded, but if the second one had detonated, everyone on board would have been killed."

Among those killed was Pastor Freddy Makawimbang. He was traveling to Poso to continue his work on a house-rebuilding project for Christian refugees. One of the pastor's church members was traveling with Makawimbang and suffered leg injuries. He is being questioned by police as a material witness of the incident.

"Our sources tell us that the two men wearing military fatigues were likely members of the Laskar Jihad," said VOM spokesman Gary Lane. "In the past, Laskar Jihad warriors have often worn military fatigues to disguise themselves when attacking Christians and we can be certain that Christians would not attack a bus carrying fellow Christians."

VOM urges the Indonesian government to send more military troops to the area to protect Christians from further attack. The Indonesian military reportedly began withdrawing more than a thousand troops from the area just days before the bombing.

The bus attack was the first since a radical Muslim mob attacked a Christian village in the Muluku islands and another detonated a bomb and set a church on fire in the city of Ambon late last April. Just two days before that attack, the commander of the Laskar Jihad, Jafar Umar Thalib had urged Muslims to wage jihad against Christians throughout the Mulukus.

Christians and Muslims signed a peace deal in Central Sulaweisi last December and another one in Ambon last February to put an end to more than three years of religious violence. Last March, one pastor in the town of Tentena urged North American Christians to keep praying for the people of the Central Sulaweisi fishing village. "Pray for us," he said, "Because the plans of Laskar Jihad not stop yet."

The Voice of the Martyrs immediately sent help from its Families of the Martyrs Fund to the widow of pastor Freddy Makawimbang. The mission has distributed more than 6,000 Indonesia Life Packs to refugees throughout Indonesia and is also helping to rebuild the burned homes of Christian refugees in Poso .VOM is also involved in printing and distributing the Bible and other Christian books in the Indonesian language.

Voice of the Marytrs. Used with Permission.