Whatever the suspicious object was that police detonated, this was an act of intimidation, intended to “strike terror” in the hearts of unbelievers (Qur’an 8:60) in a country where attacks against churches are a very real and immediate possibility. Just ask the people of Temanggung. West Borneo: bomb threats to a church, Catholics in the crosshairs of terrorists,” by Mathias Hariyadi for Asia News, June 22:
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church Stella Maris in Siantan Hulu, a village north of the city of Pontianak, the capital of western Borneo, is in the crosshairs of terrorists. On the evening of June 20 an anonymous phone call announced an imminent bomb attack. A woman’s voice, in fact, warned of a crude bomb planted near the building. The pastor, warned by a faithful, called the bomb squad who blew up a hidden object in the trash. It has been a while since attacks against the Christian minority, although in the past there have been incidents of sectarian violence.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Severianus Endy, a journalist in Pontianak, reports that the first phone call was addressed to a man named Beno, a Catholic pharmacist in the village. He immediately warned the pastor of Stella Maris, Fr. Sony Wengkang, who then contacted the police. “The threat came – said the priest – from an unidentified woman’s voice, calling from a cell phone. The number was not hidden. “
A bomb squad immediately intervened to verify the seriousness of the threat. Rummaging in the garbage, experts found a suspicious object inside a garbage can and they detonated it. Addressing the crowd of worshipers, the pastor said that the community should be notified in case of concrete threats, at the same time he sought to soothe tensions, calling Catholics to calm and social harmony. Meanwhile, police launched an investigation to trace those responsible.
In the past, Pontianak, West Borneo, was the scene of sectarian violence. The area is inhabited mostly by Indonesians of Chinese descent and native local Dayak ethnic group, Catholics. In 1999 they were involved in violent clashes with maduranesi migrants, from the island of Madura in East Java, and mostly Muslim.
Previously, other incidents of sectarian conflicts had occurred in 1997 and 1996. Only the intervention of the Indonesian army guaranteed the return of calm and order.