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Would-be bomber’s explosives fail in Indonesia church

The man managed to take an axe from the backpack and 60-year-old priest’s hand

Published: Updated:

A would-be suicide bomber’s explosives failed to detonate in a packed church in western Indonesia during Sunday Mass, and he injured a priest with an axe before being restrained, police said.

The 18-year-old assailant left a bench and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only burned without exploding, said national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

Before he was restrained by members of the congregation, the man managed to take an axe from the backpack and attacked the Rev. Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest’s hand, Amar said.

The motive for the attack at the Roman Catholic St. Yoseph Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, was not clear, but the perpetrator carried a symbol indicating support for the ISIS.

Police were interrogating the man, who told them he was not working alone, Amar said, without providing details.

Eyewitness account

An eyewitness, Markus Harianto Manullan, said the assailant wore a jacket and carried a bag.

“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.


Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has carried out a sustained crackdown on militant networks since the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

A suicide attack in the Indonesian capital in January killed four attackers and four civilians, including a Westerner, and injured 19.

In July, a suicide bomber linked to the ISIS group blew himself up outside a police station in Central Java.