Coming a week before Christians around the world celebrate Easter, a packed Roman Catholic church in Indonesia has been targeted by two suicide bombers during a Palm Sunday service.
It happened on Indonesia's Sulawesi island and the blast injured at least 20 people. The explosives were reportedly detonated just outside the church, and so far authorities have said the only fatalities were the pair of suicide bombers themselves.
The AP reports that "video obtained by The Associated Press showed body parts scattered near a burning motorbike at the gates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province."
One of the attackers is believed to have been a woman. Both bombers had arrived on motorbike, and the carnage could have been much worse but they were confronted by security guards based on suspicions, after which they detonated outside the building.
"Rev. Wilhelmus Tulak, a priest at the church, said he had just finished celebrating Palm Sunday Mass when a loud bang shocked his congregation," the AP writes. "He said the blast went off at about 10:30 a.m. as a first batch of churchgoers was walking out of the church and another group was coming in."
Over the past years Indonesia's minority Christians have been subject of multiple Islamist attacks and bombings of churches. Not only is Indonesia the most populous Muslim country in the world, but it has large pockets especially in rural areas where hardline clerics and militant groups hold sway.
Security footage captured the moment of the terrifying explosion...
video dari cctv sekitar gereja katedral makassar pic.twitter.com/za5ztbo2x5— txtfromsupirpete2 (@SupirPete2) March 28, 2021
Indonesian Christians especially tend to be targeted during their holidays such as Christmas and Easter. The AP reviews: "Indonesia has a history of battling Islamist extremist groups. In December, police arrested the head of Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda-aligned terror group most famously known for a 2002 bombing that killed more than 200 people."
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo sought to assure that security services will remain on high alert in order to protect places of worship amid the fundamentalist threat: "I call on people to remain calm while worshipping because the state guarantees you can worship without fear," Widodo said in televised remarks in the wake of Sunday's blast.