Indonesian police have identified one of the bombers involved in a militant attack in front of a church in the city of Makassar.
- A suspected bomber tried to enter the church grounds on a motorbike
- The head of the country’s counter-terrorism agency described the attack as terrorism
- Authorities said they were looking into which radical networks the bombers came from
Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo told reporters the person was a part of a group involved in a militant attack in the Philippines in 2018.
The two suspected suicide bombers attacked a Catholic church on Sunday, wounding fourteen people on the first day of the Easter Holy Week, officials said.
The congregation was concluding their mass inside the church on the island of Sulawesi when the attackers detonated at least one device outside, police said.
The two suspects were the only fatalities.
“I strongly condemn this act of terrorism and I have ordered the police chief to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators’ networks and tear down the networks to their roots,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in an online broadcast following the attack.
Father Wilhemus Tulak, a priest at the church, told Indonesian media the suspected bomber tried to enter the church grounds on a motorbike, but was stopped by a security guard.
Security camera footage shows a blast that blows flame, smoke and debris into the middle of the road.
Authorities said they were looking into which radical networks the bombers came from and whether the attack was linked to recent arrests of suspected militants, national police spokesman Argo Yuwono said.
Boy Rafli Amar, the head of the country’s National Counter-terrorism Agency, described Sunday’s attack as an act of terrorism.
Makassar Mayor Danny Pomanto said the blast could have caused far more casualties if it had taken place at the church’s main gate instead of a side entrance.
Makassar, Sulawesi’s biggest city, reflects the religious makeup of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country with a substantial Christian minority and followers of other religions.
“Whatever the motive is, this act isn’t justified by any religion because it harms not just one person but others, too,” Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister, said in a statement.
Gomar Gultom, head of the Indonesian Council of Churches, described the attack as a “cruel incident” as Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday.
He urged people to remain calm and trust the authorities.
In January, a counter-terrorism unit raided a militant hideout in Makassar and killed two men suspected by police of involvement in twin bombings at a Philippine church in 2019 that killed more than 20 people.
The previous year, police blamed the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) group for suicide attacks on churches and a police post in the city of Surabaya in 2018.
Those incidents killed more than 30 people.
In subsequent years, security forces in Indonesia scored some major successes in tackling militancy, but more recently there has been a resurgence of militant violence.