An Indonesian suicide bomber, who attempted to set off a bomb in a church in the western part of the country on Sunday, was not working alone, authorities have confirmed.
Indonesia’s National Police spokesman Major General Boy Rafli Amar revealed that the suicide bomber told police officers interrogating him that he was not working alone, the New York Times reported. Amar said the suspect did not name his accomplices.
Indonesian police have searched the home of the suicide bomber. Police revealed that the suicide bomber confessed that he was told to stage the attack by an unknown man he met on the street, the Jakarta Globe reported.
“Considering his young age, there has to be someone else who supports him. We are currently digging to seek his identity,” the chief of Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius said.
The suspect, identified as 17-year-old Ivan Armadi Hasugian, was among the congregation during morning mass at the St. Yoseph Catholic Church in Medan, Sumatra, the Strait Times reported. While the priest was delivering his sermon, police say there was a faint explosion and the suicide bomber rushed towards the pulpit with a knife as smoke swirled from his backpack.
The suicide bomber was restrained by the congregation after he attacked the priest with the knife and injured his left hand. He was later taken into custody by police officers, who were called to the scene.
Medan police spokeswoman Rina Sari Ginting, who described the botched suicide attack as an act of terrorism, revealed that there was a small explosion like fireworks before the suspect rushed towards the pulpit, Reuters reported.
An eyewitness said that the suicide bomber appeared to have been assembling the bomb in the church before the attack.
Indonesian police are assessing the content of the bag that the suicide bomber was carrying. A witness told Indonesian newspaper Suara Pembaruan that an unexploded bomb was found in the suspect’s bag, the Jakarta Globe reported.
According to the Strait Times, a source said the bag contained a knife and a note with text in Arabic that is translated to mean “there is no God but Allah.” Meanwhile, the Jakarta Globe reported that the suspect’s backpack contained a drawing that looks like the flag of the Islamic State (ISIS).
The suicide bomber, who is said to be a student, is a Muslim. However, it is unclear if he is part of any radical Islamic group or has ties with ISIS. The Indonesian police are interrogating the suspect and attempting to discern his motives.
Although the suicide bomber’s motives have not been confirmed, the fact that the attack occurred in a church highlights the religious tension in the world’s most populous Muslim country, as the influence of Islamic fundamentalism spreads.
“What’s clear is that the pastor was threatened, and [there was] an attempt to hurt the pastor,” a high-ranking Indonesian police official said, according to Reuters.
The botched suicide bomber’s attack in Sumatra comes after Indonesian authorities arrested a suspect earlier this month. Authorities revealed that the suspect was planning to bomb an island resort in Bali, Reuters reported. Police reportedly found bomb-making materials in the home of the suspect, who is said to have also been involved in a bombing in a city in Java in July.
Indonesia’s booming tourism industry has been affected by the spike in terrorism-related incidents in the country in recent years. Last week, Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism released a statement assuring tourists of their safety in the country, the Indian Express reported.
“The security now has been increased. And we can assure that tourist are totally safe in the country,” Dody Prianto, the assistant director of Indonesia’s tourism ministry, said.
[Photo by Binsar Bakkara/AP Photo]