Fourteen hurt in Indonesian church bombing

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Two suspected suicide bombers have attacked a Catholic church in the Indonesian city of Makassar, wounding at least 14 people on the first day of the Easter Holy Week, police say.

The congregation had been inside the church on the island of Sulawesi at the time of the explosion on Sunday.

The two suspects were the only fatalities.

"I strongly condemn this act of terrorism and I have ordered the police chief to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators' networks and tear down the networks to their roots," President Joko Widodo said in an online broadcast following the attack.

Authorities were looking into which radical networks the bombers came from and whether the attack was linked to recent arrests of suspected militants, national police spokesman Argo Yuwono said.

In January, a counter-terrorism unit raided a militant hideout in Makassar and killed two men suspected by police of involvement in twin bombings at a church in 2019 that killed more than 20 people.

President Widodo urged people to remain calm and said everybody could worship "without fear".

Father Wilhemus Tulak, a priest at the church, told Indonesian media a suspected bomber tried to enter the church grounds on a motorbike, but was stopped by a security guard.

Security camera footage showed a blast that blew flame, smoke and debris into the middle of the road.

Ansyaad Mbai, former chief of the National Counterterrorism Agency, said the perpetrators were likely to be part of the same group responsible for a bombing in Jolo, the Philippines, in 2020.

"They want to show that they still exist and use this to propagate their group and recruit new members," he said.

The Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah group was blamed for suicide attacks in 2018 on churches and a police post in the Javan city of Surabaya that killed more than 30 people.

Makassar, Sulawesi's biggest city, reflects the religious makeup of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country with a substantial Christian minority.

"Whatever the motive is, this act isn't justified by any religion because it harms not just one person but others, too," Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Indonesia's religious affairs minister, said in a statement.

Gomar Gultom, head of the Indonesian Council of Churches, described the attack as a "cruel incident" as Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday.