Fourteen people have been injured and suicide bombers killed in a terrorist attack yesterday in a Roman Catholic church in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, right after Palm Sunday mass.
“Thank God that no Christians died in the attack”, says brother Sam*, who is coordinator for the work in South East Asia of Open Doors, an international charity supporting persecuted Christians.
“But some believers have been severely wounded, and all present have been traumatised. Their lives will never be the same. We ask the worldwide Church to pray for their brothers and sisters in Makassar.”
The Palm Sunday explosion occurred at 10:28am local time on Sunday March 28, as worshippers were on their way home from mass.
Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, a local police chief said the two suspects belong to extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).
“There were two perpetrators killed, one is a man and another one is a woman,” said Listyo Sigit Prabowo. “They’re members of the JAD group.”
The group also has been blamed for a deadly church bombing in the Indonesian city of Surabaya in 2018.
A priest from the church told local media that one bomber tried to enter the church but was stopped by a guard. Open Doors visited the guard, Cosmas, and told he and his family that they represent the Body of Christ around the world.
“We’re here to let you know that we are standing with you in this situation – you are not alone. Many believers around the world right now are praying for you,” Open Doors said.
Cosmas and his wife said, “Thank you so much for your empathy!” Despite the situation, they were smiling and laughing.
According to a Channel News Asia report, five church staff members and four worshippers were among the wounded. They say there were few people attending the mass due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Indonesia is no stranger to terrorist attacks. Just four months ago, four Christians were murdered in Sigi, by Islamic extremists. And in 2018, police blamed ISIL-connected groups for a church suicide attack in Surabaya that killed 30 people.
“In Indonesia, the situation for Christians has been deteriorating in recent years, with Indonesian society taking on a more conservative Islamic character,” says Brother Sam. “Christians who grew up in a Muslim home often experience persecution from their families. At the same time, Islamic militants carry out attacks from time to time. Many share the ideology or are even affiliated with global terrorist movements such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.”
Open Doors has local partners on site to do fact finding and assess the needs of the Christian community. Brother Sam adds: “It’s important that we come alongside when they are suffering. They must know that they are not alone.”
*Name changed for security purposes.
Open Doors is a charity helping people follow Jesus all over the world, no matter the cost. Since 1955, Open Doors has been equipping persecuted Christians to remain in some of the hardest places to do so. This is done by delivering emergency relief, community development and discipleship in over 70 countries.