A suspected suicide bomber has detonated his explosives outside a Catholic church in the Indonesian city of Makassar, police and a witness said, wounding at least nine people on the first day of the Easter Holy Week.
The explosion took place on Sunday at a time when the congregation was inside the church, police spokesman E Zulpan told Reuters news agency.
The city of Makassar is located on the island of Sulawesi.
Zulpan said the lone attacker was the only fatality.
He added that it was unclear whether the body parts at the scene were only from the attacker.
“We’re investigating whether [the body parts are] from bombers or bystanders… Some injured victims have been taken to hospital.”
Father Wilhemus Tulak, a priest who was leading Mass at the time of the explosion, told Indonesian media that the suspected bomber tried to enter the church grounds on a motorbike, but had been stopped by a security guard.
He said the explosion occurred at about 10:30am (03:30 GMT) and that none of the worshippers was killed.
Security camera footage showed a blast that blew flame, smoke and debris into the middle of the road.
Makassar 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
.Police did not say who might be responsible for the apparent attack and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Police blamed the ISIL-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) group for suicide attacks in 2018 on churches and a police post in the city of Surabaya that killed more than 30 people.
Boy Rafli Amar, the head of the country’s National Counterterrorism Agency, described Sunday’s attack as an act of “terrorism”.
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.
“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.
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.
Indonesia’s deadliest attack took place on the tourist island of Bali in 2002, when bombers killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.
In subsequent years, security forces in Indonesia scored some major successes in tackling armed groups but, more recently, there has been a resurgence of violence.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES