Indonesian cathedral rocked by suicide bombing on Palm Sunday

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Indonesian cathedral rocked by suicide bombing on Palm Sunday


Jakarta (AFP)

An Indonesian cathedral was rocked by a suicide bombing on Sunday, body parts litter the chaotic scene as Christians inside celebrated the start of Holy Week.

The powerful explosion at the church in the town of Makassar on the island of Sulawesi occurred around 10:30 a.m. local time (03:30 GMT) and left at least 14 church officials and worshipers injured by debris, said the police.

It was not clear whether their injuries were life threatening.

“There were two people on motorcycles when the blast occurred at the main entrance of the church – the perpetrators were trying to enter the compound,” said national police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

“The bike was destroyed and there are parts of the body… We are still collecting some and trying to identify the gender of the perpetrators. ”

Previously, local police said at least one suicide bomber died at the scene. They did not confirm whether the two attackers were killed.

The mayor of Makassar, Mohammad Ramdhan, said: “There are many body parts here in the church grounds as well as on the street. ”

A witness present at the scene described the explosion as “very strong”.

Police said a church security guard attempted to prevent the motorcycle from entering the compound when the explosion occurred.

The explosion of the main Catholic cathedral in Makassar – a port city of around 1.5 million people – came just after worshipers finished celebrating Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week , which commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

It comes a week before Easter.

“We were finishing the service and people were going home when it happened,” Pastor Wilhelmus Tulak told reporters.

Churches have been targeted in the past by extremists in Indonesia, the world’s largest predominantly Muslim nation.

In 2018, a dozen people were killed when a family of suicide bombers blew themselves up in churches during Sunday services in Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya.

The family – comprising two daughters aged nine and 12 – and another family of five, who carried out a suicide bombing against a police headquarters, all belonged to the same Quran study group and were related. to the local extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

JAD, who did not take responsibility for Sunday’s attack, gained notoriety in 2016 for a gun and suicide bombing in the capital Jakarta that killed four civilians and four assailants – including one who is detonated in a Starbucks store.

It was the first attack claimed by the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia has long struggled against Islamist militancy and has suffered a series of attacks over the past two decades, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, most of them foreign tourists. The bombings were Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack.

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