Would-Be Suicide Bomber Seized By Worshipers After Stabbing Catholic Priest And Failing To Detonate Explosives
Priest Albert Pandiangan was holding mass at a Medan Church on the western island of Sumatra when a man suddenly approached him and stabbed him in his left arm, the Mirror reports.
The knifeman tried killing himself and the hundreds of worshipers at the congregation with a homemade bomb, but failed.
According to eyewitnesses, the man sat among the worshipers before charging towards the priest and stabbing him in the arm with a knife. He was carrying a homemade bomb inside his backpack.
Some of those who attended the mass said that they heard an explosion that sounded like fireworks during the attack.
Images of the priest with his left arm bloodied while being escorted out of the church by the police emerged. The suspect’s ID card as well as a piece of paper with a drawing of the ISIS flag on it have been recovered from the church following the incident.
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Rina Sari Ginting, spokeswoman for the Medan police, confirmed the terror attack.
“A terrorism act was carried out on Sunday morning at the Saint Joseph Catholic Church.
“Police are interrogating the perpetrator… and will search his house for any bomb-making materials.”
Local media reveal that the failed suicide bomber, an 18-year-old man, was carrying an axe when he carried out the attack. The bomb “only fumed” when he tried to set it off at the congregation.
“Somebody tried to kill the priest by pretending to attend the church service and at that time tried to explode something, like a firecracker, but the firecracker didn’t explode, it only fumed,” local chief detective Nur Fallah said.
A witness named Markus Harianto Manullan said that the knifeman “fiddled with something in his jacket” before he went on a rampage.
“He sat in the same row as I did… I saw him fiddling with something in his jacket, and then I heard a small explosion and he immediately ran to the podium,” Manullan said.
It’s unclear if any of the churchgoers have been injured, but worshipers were spotted carrying an unconscious woman from the church.
After initial investigations, the Medan police said that the failed suicide bomber was possibly not alone. The authorities are still in the process of confirming the suspect’s identity.
Not long after the suspect was detained, he was pictured inside the station with a bloodied face and wearing only his underwear as officers interrogated him.
ISIS has not claimed responsibility for the attack carried out by the knifeman on Sunday.
As for the priest, he has sustained slight injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
A bomb squad has been deployed to check if there are any more bombs at the site.
The attack in Medan is just the latest in a series of attacks targeting members of the Catholic Church in the predominantly Muslim country. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the entire world, with the majority practicing a moderate form of Islam.
There has been a resurgence of terrorist attacks in Indonesia in the past several years, most of them inspired by extremist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.
In January, a suicide attacked carried out in the Indonesian capital caused the deaths of four attackers, four civilians including a Westerner, and injured 19.
In July, a suicide bomber linked to ISIS set off a bomb outside a police station in Central Java, injuring one policeman and killing the perpetrator himself, as reported by Fox News.
“This was done by terrorism networks that continue to regenerate,” said Maj. Gen. Condro Kirono, chief of Central Java Police. “Whether it is an old or new network will be revealed by the investigation,” he said.
[Photo by Binsar Bakkara/AP Photo]