Blog Post

Another Priest Attacked on the Altar

indonesia mapA suicide bomber whose explosives failed to detonate inside a packed church in Indonesia has been arrested after rushing the altar during the Mass and stabbing the priest before being restrained.

The National is reporting on injuries sustained by Father Albert Pandiangan, 60, who was celebrating Mass at St. Yosef Roman Catholic Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province when the attack occurred.

"He sat in the same row as I did,” said an eyewitness named Markus Manullan. “I saw him fiddling with something in his jacket, and then I heard a small explosion and he ran to the podium."

The homemade explosive in his backpack failed to detonate, but began to burn as he rushed the altar. Before he could be restrained, he took an ax out of the backpack and attacked Father Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the priest's hand.

The man was restrained until police arrived and took him into custody.

Thus far, no motive has been named although the man was carrying a symbol indicating support for ISIS.

"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," summarized chief detective, Nur Fallah.

The attack was reminiscent of the July 26 murder of Father Jacques Hamel, 84, by two teenage jihadists in a suburb of Rouen in northern France. Father Hamel was killed on the altar as he said Mass.

This latest attack on a priest took place in the world’s most populous Muslim nation where religious minorities are frequently targeted. The most deadly attack in recent years occurred in 2002 in Bali where 202 people were killed.

While interrogating Fr. Pandiangan’s attacker, police say the young man admitted that he was not working alone but refused to provide further details.

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