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Catholics injured in attacks on Indonesian prayer service

Intruders assault home owner, a journalist and others
Catholics injured in attacks on Indonesian prayer service

Home owner Julius Felicianus immediately after the attack (picture from his Facebook page).

At least seven people were injured Thursday during two attacks on a group of Catholics holding a prayer service in a private home in Indonesia's Yogyakarta province.

The injured included the home owner Julius Felicianus and five women. A journalist also was injured.

According to Felicianus there were two separate attacks at his Sleman district home, at 8:30 pm and 9:20 pm.

In the first attack, five women were injured. Felicianus, who was still at work, rushed home after being alerted by one of his children.

When he arrived, he saw that the prayer group had dispersed and his home had been damaged.

"Some motorcycles parked outside my house were broken," he said. "The windows of my house were broken, too. I saw stones everywhere." 

In the second attack, dozens of men riding motorcycles arrived and attacked him and a journalist who had come to report on the first incident.

"They hit my shoulder with iron bars and my head with a flower pot," he said.

Felicianus was bloodied in the attack and received five stitches for a head gash. He and three other people were treated at a nearby hospital.

Catholics have been holding nightly prayer meetings in his home and others throughout the district during May, observing the traditional devotion to Mary. Previous prayer services ran peacefully, Felicianus said.

The Association of Journalists for Diversity said in a statement that several incidents of religious-based discrimination have occurred in nearby Gunungkidul district, including attacks on interreligious activists, the forced closing of a church, banning of an Easter celebration, and the forced dismissal of an Islamic prayer service by an Islamic hardline group.

Felicianus told ucanews.com that he was surprised to see that one of the attackers was a neighbor.

"I didn't think I had problems with anyone," he told said.

Father Aloysius Budi Purnomo, head of Semarang archdiocese's Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, urged police to quickly investigate the incident.

"Bring the perpetrators to justice and protect the victims and their families," he said in a statement.

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A Sleman district police spokesman said they are investigating.

Meanwhile, Elga J Sarapung from the Interfaith Network of Indonesia said there could be political motives to the attacks.

"There might be a political interest. Felicianus is a supporter of Joko Widodo, a presidential candidate. But this is just a presumption," she told ucanews.com.   

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