JAKARTA, Indonesia – The suspects in the recent McDonald's blast had planned to buy 50 detonators to blow up churches in central Indonesia on Christmas Eve, police said Monday.
Maj. Gen. Firman Gani, the South Sulawesi police chief, said interviews with the suspects and searches of their houses turned up plans of a church in the South Sulawesi town of Toraja and bomb-making materials including TNT and sulfur.
As a result, police have increased security at 16 churches in Makassar, the South Sulawesi capital where the suspects are accused of blowing up a McDonald's and car dealership on Dec. 5. The two bombings killed three people and injured 11.
"Several suspects admitted they had planned to carry out activities that would peak Christmas Eve," Gani said. "This group had planned to buy 50 detonators. This plot was also revealed by the discovery of the TNT."
No one has claimed responsibility for the Makassar attacks but police are focusing on a hardline Islamic group, Laskar Jundullah, whose leader, Agus Dwikarna, has been jailed in the Philippines for possessing C-4 plastic explosives.
Laskar Jundullah has been described as the armed wing of the Committee to Establish Islamic Shariah Law in South Sulawesi. Laskar Jundullah has also been linked to Jemaah Islamiyah — the terror group believed responsible for the Oct. 12 Bali blasts.
Several of the suspects are allegedly part of the group and police claim to have found incriminating evidence in the homes of Laskar Jundullah members, including plans to form an Islamic state — a goal of Jemaah Islamiyah.
Police said they also have established that some of the McDonald's suspects were associates of the Bali bombers and were in contact before the Bali attacks, though they said it was too early to say if the bombings were linked.
In Bali, police spokesman Brig. Gen. Edward Aritonang said that police have found about 40 sacks of potassium chlorate — a chemical used in fireworks — at the East Java home of a friend of Bali bombing suspect Amrozi. Police arrested two people, identified only as BD and AR, who are believed to have hidden the bomb-making material for Amrozi.
"Police found about 40 carts of potassium chlorate that Amrozi gave a friend last September," Aritonang said. "Two people were questioned about whether they knew that the materials are dangerous and why they did not tell the police about the materials."