Police in Indonesia have said the suicide bombers who targeted a Catholic cathedral in South Sulawesi on Palm Sunday were a married couple who belonged to an Islamic State-inspired group.
The two suicide bombers were the only fatalities from the attack that took place as Mass was finishing on March 28. Nineteen other people were injured by the explosions that occurred outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral of Makassar.
One of those injured was a security guard who tried to stop the bombers from entering the church compound area.
Police have said the couple belonged to Islamist radical group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) who were suspected of suicide attacks on churches and a police post that killed at least 30 people in the city of Surabaya in 2018.
National police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said 13 people in Greater Jakarta, West Nusa Tenggara and Makassar had been arrested since the attack and had different roles in its execution, from making the explosives to detonating them.
Listyo said 5.5 kg (12.13 lb) of explosives and several ingredients from the raids, including triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a powerful but unstable mixture often used by Islamist militant groups.
Listyo told a news conference the male bomber wrote a letter to family expressing his intentions to die for his beliefs.
In a statement, the country’s Catholic bishops expressed “concern, prayer and deep sorrow for the attack” while adding that “it is not just on the Catholic community but on the entire nation and state of Indonesia.”
The attack “degrades human dignity, destroys human values and adds to the long list of acts of terrorism in our beloved archipelago,” said the statement signed by Bishop Yohannes Harun Yuwono, chairman the Commission for Interreligious Relations of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia.
The World Council of Churches also denounced the attack in a statement.
About 20 suspected JAD members were arrested in January, and authorities believe JAD was involved in the twin suicide attack on a Philippine church in 2019 that killed more than 20 people and wounded more than 100.
Makassar, the biggest city on Sulawesi island, reflects the religious makeup of Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and has a substantial Christian minority, among other faiths.
About 10 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s more than 270 million population is Christian. There are an estimated eight million Indonesian Catholics. – With Reuters