Indonesian cathedral targeted by suicide bombing after Palm Sunday

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At least 14 people were injured Sunday in a suicide bombing attack that targeted Makassar Cathedral in eastern Indonesia after Palm Sunday, a celebration that marks the start of Holy Week for Christians.

The exterior of the building on the south of the island of Celebes was littered with pieces of human bodies following this powerful explosion which occurred around 10:30 am (03:30 GMT).

At least 14 people were injured, police said, without giving details of their state of health.

“Two people were riding motorcycles when the explosion occurred at the main gate of the church, the attackers were trying to enter the perimeter of the church,” said national police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

“The motorcycle was destroyed and there are body parts. We are still picking up the pieces and trying to identify the gender of the attackers. “

Earlier, police in South Sulawesi province, of which Makassar is the capital, said at least one assailant had perished. The national police did not confirm this information.

“There are a lot of pieces of human bodies near the church and also in the street,” said Mohammad Ramdhan, the mayor of this port city of 1.5 million inhabitants.

A witness for his part spoke of a “very strong” explosion.

“People were going home”

Police say a security guard tried to prevent the motorcycle from entering the perimeter of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, seat of the Archdiocese of Makassar just before the blast, which occurred after the end of mass.

Palm Sunday marks the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, according to Christian tradition, at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter.

“We had finished mass and people were going home when it happened,” Priest Wilhelmus Tulak told reporters.

Many vehicles were damaged near the cathedral complex, around which the police were establishing a security cordon, according to an AFP photographer on the spot.

Churches have in the past been the target of extremists in Indonesia, which is the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world.

In May 2018, a family of six, including two girls aged 9 and 12 and two sons aged 16 and 18, set off bombs against three churches in Surabaya, the country’s second city, killing more than a dozen. faithful.

The same day a second family detonated, apparently by accident, a bomb in an apartment and the following day a third committed a suicide attack on a police station.

These attacks, which left a total of 15 victims and 13 deaths among the attackers, including five children, were the deadliest in more than a decade in the archipelago.

The three radicalized families were linked to the radical movement Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports the Islamic State (IS) group. And the attacks were claimed by ISIS.

Indonesia’s tradition of tolerance has been put to the test in recent years by a development of conservative, even extremist, Islamic currents, and religious minorities, Christians, but also Buddhists and Hindus are worried about religious coexistence.

More than 200 people were killed in 2002 in attacks on the island of Bali, which were attributed to the Indonesian Islamist organization Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).