Bomb blasts in Indonesian Christian town kill 21


TENTENA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two bombs ripped through a busy market in a Christian town in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, killing up to 21 people

in an attack likely to raise fears sectarian bloodshed could again break out in the region. The explosions left a trail of blood and destruction in the lakeside town of Tentena, on the eastern island of Sulawesi,, part of an area where three years of Muslim-Christian clashes killed 2,000 people until a peace deal was agreed in late 2001. Periodic unrest has flared since, but Saturday morning's attack was among the worst. Tensions rose after the bombings, with hundreds of residents converging on the local hospital and destroyed outdoor market, demanding police find the killers. The official Antara news agency, quoting local government officials, said the death toll was 21. Police earlier told Reuters it was 19. A local hospital official said 32 people were wounded, many seriously. One toddler was among the dead, officials said. Crowds of people banged their hands on the local police chief's car when he arrived on the scene soon after the attacks, but there was no violence. "The situation is getting tense," Andi Asikin, the mayor of Poso town not far from Tentena, told El Shinta radio station. "People are upset because their families are victims. Crowds of people who are relatives of the victims are condemning the act. They are demanding officials hunt the perpetrators." Police on the scene said the bombs comprised high explosives, adding that the blasts could be heard 12 km (7 miles) away. The second explosion came 15 minutes after the first, and was the bigger of the two, residents said. The roofs of shops near the market were torn off and food and goods scattered over a wide area in Tentena, 1,500 km (900 miles) northeast of Jakarta. Windows in a police station were blown out. Much of the past Sulawesi violence focused on nearby Poso in a conflict that drew Muslim militants from groups such as the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asian network blamed for numerous bomb attacks across Indonesia. Some 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim. But in some eastern parts, Christian and Muslim populations are about equal in size.

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