Indonesian police hold church bomb suspect


JAKARTA, Oct. 3 (UPI) — Indonesian police are questioning terror suspect Beni Asri after arresting him on suspicion of planning a church suicide bombing in Solo that killed two people.

“The suspect is identified as Beni and he was arrested in Solo, West Sumatra,” National Police spokesman Cmdr. Boy Rafli Amar said.

Asri, 26, was captured near his parents’ house, Amar said.

He is also wanted for suspected involvement in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Cirebon, around 100 miles east of Jakarta, in April.

The church bomb was detonated at around 11 a.m. in Solo, officially called Surakarta, a city of half a million people on Central Java island.

Solo police said two people died in the attack on the Bethel Injil Sepenuh Church — the Bethel Full Gospel Church of Indonesia. The dead were the suspected suicide bomber and a church-goer who was among the 15 people injured but who died later in hospital.

The attack in Solo came after clashes last month between Christian and Muslim groups that left six people dead and around 80 injured in Ambon, capital of Indonesia’s Maluku province — also known as the Moluccan Islands.

Rioting broke out during the funeral of a Muslim motorcycle taxi driver, who was killed in a road accident.

Police were helped by several hundred troops to quell street fighting after text messages circulated to Muslims that the driver had been set upon by Christians.

In the April Mosque attack, the suicide bomber arrived during Friday prayers in the building inside a police compound in Cirebon, West Java, around 100 miles east of Jakarta. The bomber died and around 30 officers were injured in what appeared to be a change of tactics for rebels within Indonesia.

Immediately after the Cirebon bombing, Minister for Security Djoko Suyanto said there was a possibility that the attack signaled a disturbing shift in rebel tactics.

National Defense Institute analyst Wawan Purwanto also said the Cirebon attack needed close examination.

“This is a new phenomenon in Indonesia, a Taliban-style attack,” he told the Weekend Australian newspaper. “We know this type of mosque bombing usually happens in places like Pakistan and we need to analyze it carefully.”

Indonesian terrorism consultant Noor Huda Ismail told the Australian that the Cirebon bomb marked a change from attacking foreigners either working in Indonesia or on holiday.

“Previously, they would target Americans, Australians or any foreigners they consider to be infidels,” he said. “But this time their target was police officers. They believe the police receive foreign aid and Indonesian policies are influenced by the United States.”

Asri is one of five people police want to question for suspected involvement in suicide bombing attempts since the Cirebon attack.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.