At least 15 homemade, low-explosive bombs were found last Friday in a suitcase left behind in a Protestant church at the heart of Ambon City, the capital of Indonesia’s Maluku province.
According to Italy-based AsiaNews, members of Maranatha Church in Ambon City noticed a suitcase at the end of a religious gathering on October 22. Because no one claimed ownership of the suitcase, the congregation became suspicious and notified the police who later discovered bombs contained in the suitcase. The bombs were defused shortly afterwards.
Two days earlier, similar explosive devices had been found in Silo church, the oldest Protestant church and home to the largest Protestant congregation in Ambon City. On December 26, 1999, the Silo church was also the scene of another violent incident in which a crowd of Islamic extremists reportedly attacked Christians as they were celebrating a baptism.
On May 25 of this year, another bomb was found inside a flowerpot across from the building hosting the Protestant Synod, which is next door to the Maranatha church.
Both Silo church and Maranatha church have seen fighting between Christians and Muslims in a violent conflict that has lasted several years in Maluku.
Since 1999, inter-communal fighting in Maluku has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 people and forced another 500,000 to flee their homes.
Although local Christians and Muslims signed a peace accord in 2002, sources say hostilities have never fully stopped.