Indonesia's national motto - unity in diversity - represents as much of a political challenge today as it did when the slogan was dreamt up when the new republic was born, more than 50 years ago. Conflict between the majority Muslims and the much smaller Christian community is nothing new in this troubled country. Over the past two years an escalating conflict between the two religious groups has claimed thousands of lives. The most serious violence has been in the Moluccan islands where some 5,000 deaths have been the result of sectarian violence. In many ways tension and conflict in a country made up of 300 different ethnic groups is inevitable; and this is perhaps more true now than at any time in the past 50 years. The forces that appear to be pulling apart the country's sense of national identity have long been in evidence, but overshadowed or kept in check - either by the common struggle against the Dutch colonialists, or by the iron hand of Suharto, the disgraced president who created a government with zero-tolerance for political dissent. While economic progress continued, all was well. But, as the country's economic foundations collapsed, so Suharto fell from power and ancient tensions readily rose to the surface. But what is particularly worrying about the latest wave of violence is the apparent sophistication with which it was planned and executed. As Indonesians attempt to build a new, more politically and economically liberal society, they must now be aware that some of those people prepared to resort to violence for their own ends are far more dangerous than the previously seen groups of militants armed with crude weapons that have carried out acts of barbarism in towns on Java. The bombings on Christmas Eve, which left at least 15 people dead and scores injured, may implicate sections of the disaffected military, simply because of the complex logistical operation involved in co-ordinating 18 more or less simultaneous explosions in seven cities. It is unlikely that any of the civilian groups that have been active up to the present would have the resources for such a string of attacks. President Abdurrahman Wahid's prompt condemnation of the bombings will be welcomed by all who hope for an end to violence in the country. Many Muslim organisations, too, have been quick to distance themselves from the cowardly and despicable attacks. And yet the President's appeal for restraint may well be in vain. His declaration that 'What we have to fear is fear itself', will simply be an abstract slogan to the beleaguered Christian community unless he takes prompt action to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of the Christmas bombings.