Police in Makassar, South Sulawesi, are standing guard outside churches after would-be arsonists hit two more churches in a second wave of attacks early Thursday morning.
Unknown assailants hurled homemade molotov cocktails at the South Sulawesi Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) and the Toraja Klassis Makassar Church Panakkukang Congregation in a pair of coordinated 4 a.m. attacks. Both churches suffered fire damage in the attempted firebombings, police said.
Witnesses quickly worked to extinguish the flames, but were unable to get a clear look at the perpetrators, South Sulawesi Police Spokesman Snr. Comr. Endi Sutendi said.
Investigators were gathering evidence at both locations Thursday morning. The pieces of a shattered bottle of Bintang beer police said was used in the attack was recovered at the Toraja Klassis Church. A similar bottle was found at the Indonesian Christian Church, police said.
Thursday’s attempted church burnings were the second such attack in the past week. Police are now on high alert as officers search for those behind the attacks.
“We will guard all the churches in Makassar,” South Sulawesi Police Chief Insp. Gen. Mudji Waluyo told the Jakarta Globe. “There are at least two officers from Sabhara [the police public order unit] openly guarding each church while another keeps a discreet eye on it. We will also install CCTV at each church.”
Mudji said police will not tolerate such attacks.
Police believe this second wave of attempted church burnings are related to last week’s attacks. National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the attacks were likely meant to stir religious controversy in South Sulawesi. Investigators didn’t find any evidence linking the attacks to known terrorist groups operating in either Poso or South Sulawesi.