Indonesian church shaken by explosion on Palm Sunday

An explosion ripped through the grounds of a Catholic cathedral in the eastern Indonesian city of Makassar on Sunday morning, breaking the calm on Palm Sunday, a holy day for Christians.

An unverified video said to have been taken at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus showed smoking remains and palm leaves scattered on the ground.

Father Wilhelmus Tulak, a priest of the cathedral, told Indonesian broadcaster Metro TV that a parking attendant had been burned while trying to detain a suicide bomber. Ten people were injured, the priest said.

The cathedral was between Masses when two motorcyclists approached, looking suspicious, Father Wilhelmus told Metro TV.

Mohammad Ramadhan Pomanto, the mayor of Makassar, a multi-religious port city of around 1.5 million people on the island of Sulawesi, told Metro TV that body parts were found up to 200 meters away. He said they had not killed any parishioners.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has a significant Christian minority. In recent years, Islamic State affiliates in Southeast Asia have targeted Christian places of worship there and in the mostly Catholic Philippines.

In 2018, three Christian churches were bombed in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, leaving a dozen passersby dead. The suicide bombers were a married couple and their four children. Within days, members of two other families also detonated bombs in Surabaya and set themselves off.

Last year, a Roman Catholic cathedral was bombed for the third time on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines, killing at least 14 people. As with the Surabaya attacks, a local Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for that attack. A 2019 suicide attack on the same cathedral, which killed more than 20 people, was carried out by an Indonesian couple.

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