At Least Two Dead in Suicide Bomb Attack on Indonesia Church

An explosion hit a Catholic church in central Indonesia during Palm Sunday celebrations, leaving at least two people dead and 14 injured.

The suicide bombing occurred outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar city, Sulawesi island at about 10:30 a.m. local time on Sunday just as mass had finished, national police spokesperson Argo Yuwono said in a March 28 briefing.

The suspects -- one male and one female -- both died in the attack, while most of the wounded are security guards and people attending the service, Yuwono said.

President Joko Widodo condemned the attack as an act of terrorism and said it would not be tolerated by the government.

“Terrorism is a crime against humanity and has nothing to do with any religion. All religious teachings reject terrorism for whatever reason,” Widodo said in a statement on Sunday. “I ask the public to remain calm in carrying out their worship, because the state guarantees the safety of religious people to worship without fear.”

Anti-Terror Law

The latest explosion echoes a string of attacks targeting churches in 2018 that killed more than a dozen people, later prompting Widodo to push for a more rigorous anti-terror law. Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, has battled extremism since independence in 1945.

Police and military presence has been increased in places of worship and other public areas across Indonesia, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said on March 28.

According to initial reports, two people on a motorbike attempted to enter the churchyard but were stopped by security when the explosion happened, Yuwono said. The perpetrators are linked to the JAD group that was also behind the church bombings in Jolo municipality of southern Philippines in 2019, national police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said in a March 28 statement.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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