TENTENA, Indonesia – Security forces were deployed at churches on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island today after yesterday’s bomb attack on a Christian town killed 20 people and threatened to re-ignite a violent conflict with Muslims.
About 3,000 troops were on duty in the troubled Poso region and the town of Tentena where blasts hit a busy market on Saturday in an attack police said could be the work of Islamic militants behind other major atrocities.
In Jakarta, senior officials held an emergency meeting, agreeing to step up counter-terrorist intelligence, while Indonesia’s president called for calm in Poso and across the country in the wake of the incident.
Officials said those killed included an infant and a Christian cleric. Victor Batara, a senior police officer in the provincial capital Palu, said 11 people were still fighting for their lives.
Tentena lies in a region where clashes between Muslims and Christians have killed hundreds of people in recent years. A peace deal was struck in 2001 after a year of fighting left 1,000 dead, but sporadic violence has persisted.
Although Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Islamic following, Christians and Muslims account for roughly equal proportions of the population on Sulawesi…