གཟའ་ཉི་མ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༦

Investigation Continues into Indonesian Bombing - 2002-12-09

Indonesian police are continuing to investigate last week's bomb blasts in the eastern city of Makassar, which they say may be linked to an extremist group. Three people died in the explosions, including, police say, one of the bombers.

Police have arrested two suspects in the deadly bomb blasts in the city of Makassar, in South Sulawesi. They are searching for at least three others, some of whom are thought to be linked to the extremist group Laskar Jundullah.

The first bomb went off in a McDonald's restaurant inside a shopping mall Thursday evening. It was filled with people enjoying an end to the fasting of the Islamic holy month, Ramadan. The second bomb was detonated about an hour later at a car dealership.

Three people died in the McDonald's explosion. One of the dead is thought to be one of the bombers. There were no injuries in the car dealership blast.

Laskar Jundullah is the armed wing of the Committee to Establish Islamic Law in South Sulawesi. Laskar Jundullah has sent fighters to the city of Poso in Sulawesi to join in the ongoing conflict there between Muslims and Christians.

In December 2001, the government brokered a peace deal between the two groups. Yusuf Kalla, the national welfare minister, helped lead the peace effort. Mr. Kalla is a prominent businessman and owns both the McDonald's restaurant and the car dealership hit by the bombers.

Analysts say the bombings may be simple revenge against Mr. Kalla by someone unhappy with the peace deal, or who simply wanted to target a senior politician.

Sidney Jones is with the Jakarta office of the International Crisis Group. She says it is too early to tell if Laskar Jundullah was involved in the bombing. If police confirm the group's involvement, she says, the bombs might be linked to the broader idea of Islamic expansion in Southeast Asia. "Given the fact that there is a lot of concern about Poso in the hard-line Muslim community, it may be that we're seeing the targeting of Yusuf Kalla's business places as a way of taking revenge for having signed the peace agreement that's reduced the arena for jihad, or holy war," says Mr. Jones.

The leader of Laskar Jundullah is Agus Dwikarna. The Indonesian national was arrested in March in the Philippines. He is now serving a 17-year prison sentence after being convicted of illegally possessing explosives. Police are investigating associates of Dwikarna in Sulawesi in connection with the two bombings.

The Philippines government suspects Dwikarna is a member of Jemaah Islamiyah - a regional terrorist group that wants to establish an Islamic state across Southeast Asia. Washington says the group is linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Indonesian police have linked suspects in the October 12 bombing in Bali to Jemaah Islamiyah. Nearly 200 people, mostly foreign tourists, died in that attack. Some Indonesian news media are reporting that the Sulawesi bombing suspects are linked to the Bali suspects. However, there has been no official police statement making that connection.