Friday, April 22, 2011

5 massive bombs found near Indonesia church

Members of the Indonesian police bomb-disposal unit seal off an area where a parcel bomb was found near a church in Serpong on the outskirts of Jakarta. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - TERROR suspects arrested on Thursday led police to five massive bombs buried beneath a gas pipeline near a church just outside Indonesia's capital, officials said.

Mr Djoko Suyanto, a security minister, said he believed Islamic militants had been plotting an attack ahead of Easter celebrations. The US embassy urged Americans to be vigilant. The explosives, safely defused at the scene, had been set to detonate by cell phone at around 9am on Friday.

'The army and police are under high alert,' Mr Suyanto told reporters, adding that troops would be deployed at churches and other strategic locations. 'We want to guarantee safety.'

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, killing another 60. Hundreds of suspects have been arrested, convicted and jailed.

National Police Chief Gen Timur Pradopo said the 19 suspects were arrested on Thursday, including six accused in a series of mail bombs sent last month to liberal Muslim activists and a former anti-terror chief. Several people were wounded in the parcel bombings, none seriously.

The arrested men eventually led police to the gas pipeline 100m from a Catholic church large enough to hold 3,000 people in Serpong, Gen Pradopo said. They discovered five bombs that together weighed 150kg and were rigged to be detonated by cell phone, according to Nardi Atmaja, a church official at the scene. 
-- AP

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