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Palu market bombing – broader security approach needed

Updated On: Jan 06, 2006

Jakarta– The New Year’s Eve bombing at a Christian dominated market in Central Sulawesihas sparked fears of renewed sectarian violence in the Indonesian province.  

The blast which occurred only about 100m from a church killed at least eight people and injured dozens. Provincial police have detained at least one man and more than 50 people have been questioned.

The province has been rocked by sectarian tension and violence since the fall of Suharto in 1998, killing at least 2,000 people, mainly around the Muslim town ofPoso. The motive of the latest bombing, according to the police was to reignite tensions. Security Minister Widodo A.S. and other officials have speculated that the attack could be connected to “a terrorist network” but did not specifically name Al-Qaeda-linked Jamaah Islamiyah (JI).

The General Chairman of the Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, Prof Syamsuddin has urged the government to change its strategy and approach towards bombing cases. “If we are aiming at a certain group, we may miss the real perpetrator or the mastermind. Therefore the government should not believe in a certain scenario, but try to make an all out approach” he said.

According to Prof Syamsuddin, the comprehensive approach takes into account the global forces including foreign intelligence agents in Indonesiawhich may undermine the country. “They may make Indonesiatheir target, because it is a predominantly Moslem country” he said.

Besides focussing on the intelligence operation which is crucial, the root cause of the problem such as the social and economic gap should be addressed and prioritized.

On a social level, a social researcher at the Indonesian Institute in Jakarta, Mr Koban in an analysis “The risk perception of bomb attacks” opined that Indonesians have become so accustomed to helplessness that it leads them to underestimate risk perception. Many Indonesians believe that bomb attack threats are out of their personal control.

To avoid this, government should instil confidence among the civilians by having proper equipment and early warning in structural levels and also by undertaking appropriate emergency responses.

Sources:

* Muhammadiyah Suggests Govt to Change Strategy in Dealing With Palu Bomb Blast (Antara news, Jan 4)

*Carnage at Sulawesimarket (The Straits Times, Jan 1)

*One detained over Palu bombing (The Jakarta Post, Jan 2)

*Dozens questioned over Palu market bombing (The Jakarta Post, Jan 3)

*The risk perception of bomb attacks (Opinion and Editorial, The Jakarta Post, Jan 2)