Indonesia's terror death toll hits 36 with Sumatra attack

Suicide bombings inspire new civilian anti- terrorism project backed by interfaith leaders
Indonesia's terror death toll hits 36 with Sumatra attack

Indonesian policemen secure the site outside the police headquarters in Pekanbaru, Riau following attacks on May 16. Four men were shot and killed as they staged an attack on the police headquarters that left one officer dead and two wounded. (Photo by Wahyudi/AFP)

As another deadly attack by Islamic radicals rocked Indonesia on May 16, a new anti-terrorism group backed by former first lady Sinta Nuriyah Wahid and consisting of dozens of religious leaders has been launched.

The People's Movement for Counter-Terrorism has committed itself to fighting against terror attacks that have "destroyed the values of humanity, spread fear and ruined national unity," said Sinta, wife of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

On May 16, four men carrying sharp weapons attacked the police headquarters in Sumatra's Riau province, one policeman was killed and two others injured before the perpetrators were shot dead.

In proceeding days, two separate families of suicide bombers attacked churches and a police station in Surabaya killing 25 people including the terrorists.

A few days earlier, terrorists sparked a prison riot that saw five policemen and a prisoner killed.

"A series of terror attacks is beyond the limits of humanity. At least 31 people consisting of children, civilians and policemen were killed [in Surabaya]. Worse, the perpetrators sacrificed children in the terror attacks," the former first lady said during the launch of the group on May 15 in Jakarta.

Speaking with ucanews.com, Jesuit Father Johannes Hariyanto, general secretary of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, a key figure in the new group, said any terrorist act cannot be justified.

"We cannot impose something on others by threatening and forcing them to follow what we believe. This is completely wrong," he said.

The group's launch was followed by a prayer for the bombing victims.

It also issued a statement calling for national unity by strengthening bonds between people from different religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.

On the evening of May 15 about 100 people held a candlelight vigil at the National Monument in Jakarta.

"We aimed to show our solidarity with bomb victims and their families and to express our moral support for the police in their efforts to counter terrorism," Budi Arie Setiadi, a Muslim and youth group leader who organized the event told ucanews.com.

In a prayer, a Muslim cleric, Taufik Damas, asked God "to protect our young generation from everything that can destroy their way of thinking" and "to protect our children and families from doctrines that can ruin our humanity."

Joannes Joko, a participant from St. Andrew Parish in Sukaraja in West Java's Bogor district, said the shocking nature of the bombings encouraged him to attend the prayer gathering.

"This is an effort to pressure the public into building solidarity. There must be immediate action from the government to cut the root causes of terrorism, one of which is intolerance," he said.

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