Police Question 8 in Jakarta Buddhist Temple Bombing
Security cameras at the Ekayana Buddhist Center captured footage of an unidentified man dropping off two packages containing low-grade bombs moments before Sunday night’s explosion, a head monk at the West Jakarta temple said.
The man entered the Duri Kepa temple during a crowded sermon Sunday night, placing one bomb near a shoe rack and another behind a statue of the Maitreya Buddha before leaving, Bhikku Arya Maitri Mahatera said after watching the center’s closed-circuit security camera footage.
“The young man entered the temple and acted like any other member of the congregation,” Arya said.
Moments later a low-intensity bomb exploded near the center’s doors, injuring three people in a terrorist attack reportedly stemming from anger over anti-Muslim violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
“When the blast happened, people were praying and they were very calm because they just thought it was a firecracker,” Arya said.
A letter reading “We heard Rohingya’s screams,” was found inside one of the bomb packages, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali told the Indonesian news portal Detik.com.
The police questioned eight witnesses Monday morning as Indonesian officials pushed for the swift arrest of terrorists accused of damaging “the peaceful spirit of the holy month of Ramadan.” Investigators were searching for those involved in the bombing on Monday morning, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said.
“So far we have questioned eight witnesses,” Timur explained. “They were at the scene when the bomb went off.”
A surge in anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar has inflamed tempers in Indonesia, where Islamic organizations hold protests criticizing the recently reformed country for a series of violent attacks on Rohingya Muslims. Sunday’s bombing came less than four months after police foiled a separate plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta.
Indonesian officials accused the terrorists of attempting to set off religious tensions between local Muslims and Buddhists.
“Indonesia has become a target of a foreign agenda,” House speaker Marzuki Alie said without elaborating any further. “The police are responsible for investigating the motive behind this attack so that such incidents will not happen again,” he added.
The temple, one of the biggest in Jakarta, said it hoped the blasts would “not cause any unrest in the religious community.”
— Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.