Palu, Indonesia Suspected Islamic militants set off a powerful bomb packed with nails Saturday at a busy market frequented by Christians, killing eight people and wounding 45 as they bought pork for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The blast occurred in Palu on Sulawesi Island, which has been plagued in recent years by religious violence and terrorism by Islamic extremists.
The early morning explosion sent ball bearings and nails tearing into vendors and shoppers, leaving the market scattered with dismembered bodies.
Police and passers-by carried bloodied bodies to cars.
The religious affiliations of the dead were not immediately released. However, the market sold only pig and dog meat, both of which are forbidden under Islam. Few, if any, Muslims would have been in the covered market.
The country’s security minister, Widodo Adisucipto, told reporters the bombing was linked to terrorist groups.
He refused to elaborate, but suspicion fell on Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked group that has been blamed for a series of bloody bombings in Indonesia since 2000.
Yemen obtains release of German family
San’a, Yemen A former German diplomat and his family were released unharmed Saturday, three days after being kidnapped by tribesmen while on holiday in the rugged mountains of eastern Yemen, officials said.
Juergen Chrobog, a former German foreign minister, his wife and their three children were flown from the area after they were let go, German and Yemeni officials said.
“We are safe, thank God,” Chrobog’s wife, Magda, said as the family flew by helicopter to the southern Yemeni port of Aden.
She spoke on a cell phone provided by the top government negotiator, tribal chief Awadh bin al-Wazir, who accompanied the Chrobogs on the flight.
The kidnappers freed the family after Yemen’s government agreed to hold talks about a group of detained fellow tribesmen, said another negotiator, Nasser Ba’oum, deputy governor of Shabwa province.
Ukraine faces cutoff of Russian natural gas
Moscow Russia’s state-controlled natural gas monopoly said early today that Ukraine had refused its last offer on the terms of natural gas deliveries and transit in 2006, setting the stage for Moscow to close the taps on New Year’s Day.
The announcement came after a midnight deadline that Gazprom and President Vladimir Putin had given Ukraine to decide on what price it would pay next year.
Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Gazprom had sent its Ukrainian counterpart a signed contract offering the terms Putin had presented hours earlier: to maintain Ukraine’s current fuel price for three months if Kiev agreed to pay more thereafter.
Putin said his offer was valid only until the end of the day – 10 hours before a threatened cutoff of supplies to Ukraine.
“We received an official answer from the Ukrainian side,” said Kupriyanov. The answer said, ” ‘We cannot sign it,’ and that is all.”
Gazprom is demanding that Ukraine pay $230 – more than four times the current price of $50 – per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.