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Saturday, April 16, 2011

'Suicide blast' at mosque in Java

A suspected suicide bomber has attacked a mosque in Indonesia, killing himself and wounding 28 people. Most of the wounded are police officers, as the attack happened during Friday (15-Apr-2011) prayers at a mosque in a police compound in Cirebon, West Java.

The suicide bomber died in the attack, while dozens of police officers who made up the majority of the congregation, suffered injuries from shrapnel.

"So far we have recorded 25 people injured both severely and lightly," said the West Java police chief, General Suparni Parto.

It is the first suspected suicide attack in the country in two years but follows a recent spate of letter bombs.

A majority of Indonesians are Muslims but the state is secular.

Among the wounded was the city’s police chief, who was slightly injured, Marshal Akbar said.

Marshal Akbar said the attack was probably the work of Islamist militants suspected of being behind series of mail bombs sent to liberal Muslim and secular public figures earlier this year. “They just want to create chaos,” Marshal Akbar said. “It’s the same militants. They’re not based on religion — they attacked a mosque. They’re just using the name of religion.”

Witnesses said the man was sitting among worshippers when he set off the explosives.

Whether the attack was motivated by these killings remained unclear, but the national police spokesman, Anton Bachrul Alam, said it was clear that police were targeted.

President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono, through presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha, condemned the terrorist attack.

The last terrorist attack in Indonesia occurred in 2009, when two suicide bombers launched co-ordinated assaults on luxury hotels in Jakarta. While civilians, including three Australians, were killed, the attack did appear to be carefully targeted, hitting a group of foreign businessmen having a regular Friday breakfast meeting.

Until now, Islamic extremists in Indonesia have set their bombs to kill Westerners in nightclubs, hotels and embassies.

Mosque attacks are rare in Indonesia, although an amateurish device was defused in February in the Great Mosque of Cirebon, 160km east of Jakarta.

In recent years, Indonesia has introduced a combination of new laws, anti-terror training, international co-operation and reintegration measures to tackle militancy.

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