Indonesia church suicide bomber member of pro-IS terror network: police

Indonesia church suicide bomber member of pro-IS terror network: police
Indonesian police said that one of the two suicide bombers who carried an attack on a cathedral was part of JAD, a pro-Islamic State extremist group.
3 min read
The group is blamed for other church bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines [Getty]

One of two suicide bombers who attacked an Indonesian cathedral on Palm Sunday belonged to a pro-Islamic State extremist group blamed for other church bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines, the police said.

"He is part of JAD," National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo told reporters, referring to extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah.

"This group is also part of or connected to the one which carried out an operation in Jolo in the Philippines," he added, referring to an attack in 2019.

The powerful blast at the church in Makassar city on Sulawesi island happened around 10:30 am local time (0330 GMT) and left at least 14 church officials and congregants injured by debris, police said.

It was not clear if their wounds were life threatening.

"There were two people riding on a motorbike when the explosion happened at the main gate of the church - the perpetrators were trying to enter the compound," National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said.

A witness at the scene described the explosion as "very strong".

Police said a church security guard tried to prevent the motorbike from entering the compound when the blast occurred.

The explosion at the main Catholic cathedral in Makassar - a port city of about 1.5 million - happened just after congregants finished celebrating Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, which commemorates Jesus's 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 biggest Muslim-majority nation.

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

The family - including two daughters aged 9 and 12 - and another family of five, which carried out a suicide bombing on a police headquarters, all belonged to the same Koran study group and were linked to JAD.

The group gained notoriety in 2016 for a gun and suicide bomb attack in the capital Jakarta that killed four civilians and four attackers - including one who blew himself up at a Starbucks outlet.

It was the first attack claimed by IS in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia has long struggled with Islamist militancy and has suffered a series of attacks in the past two decades, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists. The bombings were Indonesia's deadliest terror attack.

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