JAKARTA: Two suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a Catholic church in the Indonesian city of Makassar on Sunday (Mar 28), wounding 14 people on the first day of the Easter Holy Week, police and witnesses said.
National police spokesman Inspector General Argo Yuwono said at a press conference in Jakarta that the injured suffered from wounds around their necks, chests and legs. Some had blisters on their hands and feet.Advertisement
He added that he is unable to confirm the number of deaths.
Local police previously said the bomber acted alone.
The congregation had been inside the church at the time of the explosion, South Sulawesi police spokesman E Zulpan told Reuters.
South Sulawesi police chief Merdisyam told reporters that five church staff members and four worshippers are among the wounded. Due to health restrictions, there were few people in attendance at mass.
The two suspected bombers had arrived at the church around 10.20am on a motorcycle, said Mr Yuwono. They tried to enter the cathedral but a security officer stopped them.
“Then the explosion happened,” said Mr Yuwono.
“Based on information on the ground, the vehicle is destroyed, there are several human remains, and of course this will be part of our investigation,” he said.
Father Wilhemus Tulak, a priest at the church, told Indonesian media that a person who was holding off a suspected suicide bomber was wounded.
Security camera footage showed a blast that blew flame, smoke and debris into the middle of the road.
Video from the scene showed police had set up a cordon around the church and cars parked nearby were damaged.
Police did not say who might be responsible for the attack and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Police are investigating whether the suspects belong to a network, said Mr Yuwono.
The counter-terrorism squad is on its way to Makassar, he added.
Boy Rafli Amar, the head of the country’s National Counterterrorism Agency, described Sunday’s attack as an act of terrorism.
Makassar Mayor Danny Pomanto said Sunday’s blast could have caused far more casualties if it had taken place at the church’s main gate instead of a side entrance.
“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.
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.
Gomar Gultom, head of the Indonesian Council of Churches, described the attack as a “cruel incident” as Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, and urged people to remain calm and trust the authorities.
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