INDONESIA CATHEDRAL ROCKED BY PALM SUNDAY SUICIDE BOMBING
On Sunday 28 March, 20 people were injured in a suicide bombing outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, Indonesia. The attack happened around 10:30am and was carried out by a husband and wife who were suspected to be affiliated with the Islamic extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah. Four security guards and several church goers were among the injured. The assailants attempted to enter the compound following the ‘Palm Sunday’ church service. A security guard at the compound was suspicious of the motorcyclists, confronting one of them before they could get to the main entrance. The bomb was detonated shortly after the confrontation. Makassar Mayor Danny Pomanto said that if the explosion had happened at the main entrance, it could have led to “far more casualties.” Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo described the attack as an act of terrorism and ordered the police “to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators’ networks and tear down the networks to their roots.” In a televised address, he encouraged the community to “remain calm” and assured them that the state “guarantees the safety of religious people to worship without fear.” Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas also encouraged the police to step up security at places of worship. “Whatever the motive is, this attack cannot be justified by any religion because it only does harm to other people,” he said. Police have arrested 13 people in connection with Sunday’s bombing.
From a Christian perspective, Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority nation – home to 13% of the world’s Muslims. Despite this, the island of Sulawesi (where the bombing took place) has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Christians, with the percentage of Christians approximated to be around 60%, with larger groups of Christians living in the regions of Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, and Central Sulawesi. Indonesia has seen a rise in religious extremism since the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people in a popular tourist location. In 2018 a series of suicide bombings targeted churches in the port city of Surabaya, killing dozens of people. Jamaah Ansharut Daulah was also implicated in that attack. In November 2020, Islamist militants struck in the Christian-majority village of Lembantongoa, also in Sulawesi. The assailants killed a village elder, three Christian farmers, and burned a Salvation Army church, as well as several houses. Following Sunday’s attack, Pope Francis called for prayers for those who were injured in the attack. The Fellowship of Indonesian Evangelical Churches and Institutions (FIECI) requested prayer for the victims of the attack and for religious freedom – as stated in Indonesia’s constitution – to be upheld. The Fellowship condemned the attack and urged Indonesian believers to trust the authorities to investigate the attack, while “reflecting on the love, sacrifice, and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.”
Please pray with us for the following:
- For those injured in, and affected by, the Makassar bombing; that they would be able to offer forgiveness and demonstrate Christ’s love as a witness to all Indonesians
- For the safety and protection of believers (in Indonesia and across the world) as they gather to commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection
- For Indonesia’s Christian community to be bold in sharing the Gospel amid increased persecution
Image: REUTERS/Antara Foto/Arnas Padda/