03/28/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on March 28, a suspected suicide bomber blew up outside a Catholic church in Makassar, Sulawesi, while the church was having the Palm Sunday Mass. At least 20 people were wounded in total, some of them in critical condition.
The explosion at Makassar Cathedral Church’s compound occurred around 10:28 am local time when the congregation was at the second Mass. Nearby CCTV shows that the flame from the blast swallowed four people in front of the church compound. Several who were critically injured, including church guards, members, and a toddler, were immediately sent to the hospital. Two persons killed were believed to be one of the attackers.
According to a video reviewed by ICC, a wounded man at the church said he saw the attackers come. He was trying to stop them as they wanted to invite themselves in. He tried to hold off the one riding the motorbike, who later died in the attack.
South Sulawesi police spokesman E. Zulpan told Reuters that it was unclear whether body parts at the scene were only from the attacker. Although no terrorist group has come out to claim responsibility, the Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) could be the culprit, since it has launched several deadly suicide attacks against Indonesian churches in the past. In addition, in recent weeks the police in Makassar and several other cities in Indonesia had been actively arresting dozens of members of the terror group.
Responding to the suicide attack, the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) chairman Gomar Gultom said, “This ill-fated incident adds to the long list of acts of violence and terror that have occurred in the archipelago.” He calls on all people not to be afraid and anxious, but to remain vigilant. He also invites Christians to pray for peace of the society.
The representative of the Archdiocese Curia, Fr. Frans Nipa, confirmed in a statement that the Archbishop of Makassar, Msgr. John Liku ‘Ada, like all the priests who reside near the cathedral, is doing well. All other Palm Sunday activities planned for the rest of the day were canceled.
A pastor from Bandung told ICC that churches in Indonesia were alerted by the police to stay vigilant after the suicide bomb attack took place. The police conducted patrols and strengthened security at churches all over Indonesia, urging churches to hold service virtually.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “As Christians around the world prepare themselves for the Holy Week, it is pure evil that the terrorists deliberately chose this time to attack and inflict suffering on Christians. We ask for prayers for the wounded and urge the Indonesian authorities to investigate and arrest the terrorists responsible for this attack. Terrorism should not be allowed to exist in a country that upholds Pancasila.”