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Suicide bomber targets Indonesia church on Palm Sunday, several hurt

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A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a packed Roman Catholic cathedral in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province on Sunday, police said.

The explosion, in the city of Makassar, wounded nine people — five church workers and four worshippers — provincial police chief Merdisyam said.

The congregation had been inside the church at the time of the explosion, South Sulawesi police spokesman E. Zulpan told Reuters.  

“We see that there are victims and parts of human bodies have been torn apart. We do not know yet whether they are from the perpetrator or from the people who were close by,” he said.

Kompas TV broadcast video footage purportedly showing the moment the explosion happened.

Father Wilhemus Tulak, a priest at the church, told local media that the suspected bomber tried to enter the church grounds on a motorbike, but had been stopped by a security guard.

He said some of those wounded were in serious condition.

Video from the scene showed police had set up a cordon around the church and cars parked nearby were damaged.

The blast took place at 10:28 a.m. local time (0328 a.m. UTC/GMT) on Palm Sunday, the first day of the Easter holy week.

Police did not say who might be responsible for the apparent attack and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The city’s Mayor Danny Pomanto said the blast could have caused far more casualties if it had taken place at the church’s main gate instead of a side entrance.

Makassar is Indonesia’s fifth-largest urban center after Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung and Medan, with a population of 1.5 million.

Churches have been targeted previously by extremists in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.

In 2018, a dozen people were killed when a family of suicide bombers blew themselves up at churches during Sunday services in the second-biggest city Surabaya.

The country’s deadliest Islamist militant attack took place on the tourist island of Bali in 2002, when bombers killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

(Reuters, AFP)

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