Peace in the Maluku capital of Ambon, once plagued by three years of sectarian fighting, was put to the test again after two homemade bombs exploded in the eastern city on Thursday. No one was hurt in the blast and no damage was reported.
The two blasts, which eyewitnesses said went off in quick succession, were heard at about 11:30 a.m. some 25 meters behind the Silo church in Sirimau district, Ambon. The church was being renovated after having been set ablaze during the 1999-2002 riots.
"The explosions were big. Fortunately, there were no people in the area at the time of explosions," one eyewitness told a local newspaper.
The explosions did, however, cause panic among local residents and at the nearby Pattimura University, with lecturers and students seen fleeing the campus.
Meanwhile, the adjacent street quickly became jammed as the blast attracted motorists and a crowd of pedestrians.
Police later cordoned off the scene in anticipation of possible further blasts.
Bomb squad officers from the Maluku Police arrived and combed the blast site, where they discovered pieces of metal pipe.
"The exploded bombs were low-power explosives," Maluku Police spokesman Endro Prasetyo told The Jakarta Post.
He said the police were searching for the bombers.
Meanwhile, security in Ambon remained under control with local people resuming their daily activities, Prasetyo reported.
The location where the explosions took place is an area bordering two communities of Muslims and Christians, which clashed for three years until they signed a peace pact in February 2002. Thousands of people were killed in the riots.
Last April, some 40 people were killed and hundreds of homes and other buildings torched in violence that broke out after a procession by supporters of the mainly Christian separatist Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM).