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29 Mar, 2021 11:30

Couple who married 6 months ago identified as suicide bombers in Indonesian church attack

Couple who married 6 months ago identified as suicide bombers in Indonesian church attack

Indonesian police have identified the suspects in Sunday’s church suicide bombing as a recently married couple with suspected jihadist ties. Families have been involved in some major terrorist attacks in the region.

The explosion occurred outside a Roman Catholic church in the city of Makassar after two people entered the churchyard on a motorbike and were prevented from entering by security guards. The blast left 20 people injured and killed the attackers. It happened shortly after a Palm Sunday Mass service was held inside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral.

The perpetrators were identified as a couple living in the same city who got married six months ago, National Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono revealed on Monday. Lab tests matched the male's DNA to that of his relatives and confirmed the female's identity via fingerprints. The police only gave the initials of the man, L, and his wife, YSF, but local media pinpointed the young couple's residence and spoke to neighbors.

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Police say the couple are believed to have had links to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian jihadist group linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The group has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Indonesia and elsewhere in the region.

One of their highest-profile atrocities was a series of bombings in the city of Surabaya, the capital of Indonesia's East Java province. Three bombs targeted Catholic churches, while one was set off by accident at a perpetrator’s residence and another exploded when police stopped two members of the group for a check. Three families were behind the spree of violence and included their children – as young as seven – in the attacks, investigators reported.

Indonesian police said earlier that one of the suspects in the Sunday bombing had connections with a militant group that masterminded the 2019 suicide bombing of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Philippines. IS claimed responsibility for the attack which, according to law enforcement, was carried out by an Indonesian couple, with the help of other accomplices from JAD and Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino jihadist group.

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The chief of the Indonesian National Police, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, said a counterterrorism squad had arrested 19 suspected militants wanted for the Philippine attack, and shot two others, during a January raid in Makassar. He also reported that five people were arrested on Sunday and Monday as part of the investigation into Sunday’s cathedral bombing.

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