Charity mystified by Aceh grenade attack
An international NGO has become the target of a grenade attack in the former conflict-ridden province of Aceh, where violent crime has increased sharply in the past few months.
The office of Save the Children in Bireuen, on the province's east coast, sustained minor damage when the hand grenade exploded at its building on Wednesday.
'No one was injured and we are all back to work as normal,' said Bachtiar Usman, senior country adviser for Save the Children-Aceh.
He said he did not know why the NGO was attacked.
'The motive puzzles me. We did not receive any threats or warnings prior to the attack and we cannot quite understand why we were targeted,' he said.
No arrests have been made and Bireuen police chief Salahudin said, 'investigations are proceeding.'
A source in Aceh said the motive could be linked to a housing development project that Save the Children is financing and building in the area.
The development is part of the 3,660 permanent houses, 94 schools and 70 health centres the NGO committed to building in Aceh after the December 2004 tsunami ravaged the province and killed about 170,000 people.
As well as the five-year tsunami relief plan, Save the Children is carrying out a long-term development programme in Aceh.
'It is likely that not everyone is happy with it and that not everyone received a cut from it,' said the source, hinting that the attackers could try to extort a share of the NGO's funds.
In the past few months, the number of violent crimes has increased in Aceh. Experts say the rise is due to frustration felt by those not benefitting from the peace process or financial windfalls from post-tsunami reconstruction.
Aceh has been flooded with post-tsunami reconstruction money. The province's coffers have also benefited from Indonesia's decentralisation programme, as well as Aceh's status as a province with special autonomy.
Special autonomy was reinforced with a peace agreement signed between the Indonesian government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement in August 2005. The deal ended a three-decade-long war.
Low-ranking members of the movement are among those suspected of being behind the crimes.
'Aceh has received billions of dollars in the past few years, but not everyone has benefited, and those left out are trying to get what they think they are entitled to in any possible way,' said Aguswandi, a Banda Aceh-based analyst.
'These are also people who are used to using violence to achieve their goals.'
US-based Save the Children started operations in Indonesia in 1976.
Save the Children is carrying out a long-term development programme in Aceh
The number of houses being built by the organisation : 3,660