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Suicide bombers in Indonesia church attack married 6 months ago

JAKARTA: Two suicide bombers who attacked an Indonesian cathedral on Palm Sunday were married six months ago. They subsequently joined a pro-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria extremist group, the police said yesterday as they nabbed others suspected in the plot.

About 20 people were wounded in the powerful explosion outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar city on Sulawesi island while worshippers celebrated the start of the Holy Week.

Both suspects were killed instantly after they rode a motorbike into the church compound and, when challenged by security, detonated a bomb packed with nails, the police said.

They were the only fatalities.

About 15 victims remained in hospital yesterday, with two in intensive care for burn injuries. Four have been discharged.

Indonesian authorities said yesterday the pair, identified through DNA and fingerprint testing, had been married for about six months.

The male suspect, who was in his mid-twenties, left his family a suicide note that said he was ready to die as a martyr.

A Makassar resident said the male bomber was a street food seller who lived in a rented house near his parents' home. He added: "He was nice as a kid... but when he got older, he didn't really socialise around here."

The couple belonged to an Islamic study group along with several of more than a dozen other suspects arrested since Sunday over their alleged roles in the attack, the police said.

Raids at several locations including the couple's home in Makassar and others in Jakarta turned up a cache of explosives and bomb-making ingredients, the authorities said.

The police said the couple were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, an extremist group blamed for a series of attacks, including the 2018 suicide bombings at churches in Surabaya, which killed a dozen congregants. - AFP

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