Security tight at Indonesian churches
Jakarta - Christians in Indonesia attended
Good Friday celebrations under tight security after several bombs were found
under a gas pipeline near a church outside the capital.
Authorities deployed hundreds of thousands of
police nationwide to protect churches, with 20 000 officers assigned in Jakarta
"If we didn't come today ... the
terrorists would just be laughing happily," said Grace Lianawati, 35, who
was attending services at the targeted Christ Cathedral Church with her family.
"We're just grateful that the government
foiled this plot," the 35-year-old mother of two added. "Just imagine
how bad it could have been."
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim
nation, has been battling extremists since 2002 when al-Qaeda-linked militants
attacked two nightclubs on Bali island, killing 202 people, many of them
foreign tourists. Several attacks since then targeted glitzy hotels,
restaurants and an embassy, but they have been much less deadly and the last
occurred two years ago.
A group of terror suspects arrested Thursday
led police to the sprawling 3 000-seat church in Serpong, a Jakarta suburb.
There they uncovered nine bombs, several
weighing up to 80kg. Some were placed under a gas pipeline metres away, and
others in bags. They also found plastic containers filled with high-explosive
Ninety percent of Indonesians are Muslim, though
most practice a moderate form of the faith and abhor violence. A small,
extremist fringe has become more vocal, and violent, in recent years.