BEKASI, Indonesia — Assailants stabbed a Christian worshiper in the stomach and pounded a minister in the head with a wooden plank as they headed to morning prayers yesterday in this city 25 miles west of Jakarta.
Neither of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.
No one claimed responsibility for the attacks. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamic hard-liners who have repeatedly warned members of Batak Christian Protestant Church against worshiping on a field housing their now-shuttered church.
In recent months, they have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of “Infidels!’’ and “Leave now!,’’ and dumped piles of feces on the land.
Local Police Chief Imam Sugianto said Asia Sihombing, a worshiper, was on his way to the field when assailants jumped off a motorcycle and stabbed him in the stomach.
The Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak was smashed in the head as she tried to come to his aid.
“I was trying to help get him onto a motorcycle so we could get him to a hospital,’’ she told reporters.
She said the face of one of the assailants looked familiar.
Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other nation in the world. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in Parliament, has been widely accused in the media of failing to crack down on hard-liners. He immediately called on authorities to investigate and to hold accountable those responsible for yesterday’s attack.
“We know who’s behind it,’’ said Major General Timur Pradopo, the police chief in Jakarta, “but I don’t believe this is an interreligous conflict.’’