Indonesian police foil Islamist terrorist plot to bomb churches in Papua
Police in Indonesia have uncovered an Islamist terrorist plot to attack several churches and assassinate a leading church minister in the country’s Christian-majority province of Papua.
Members of the Densus 88 counter-terrorism squad and local police made at least ten arrests across southern Papua on 28 May. The suspects are believed to be connected to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has links to the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) terrorist group.
“They intended to commit suicide bombings at several churches in Merauke, Jagebob, Kurik, Semangga and Tanah Miring,” said a police spokesman.
One suspect revealed during police questioning that suicide bombers had attempted twice to kill one of Papua’s most senior church leaders but he survived because on both the occasions that he was targeted he was out of town.
On Palm Sunday this year two JAD suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a church in Makassar city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Nineteen people were injured in the attack, but the toll could have been worse had a security guard not prevented the bombers’ motorcycle from entering the church gates.
JAD, which operates throughout Indonesia, is suspected of carrying out suicide attacks on three churches in the city of Surabaya, on the Indonesian island of Java, in 2018, killing 13 people and wounding 40 others.
Another Islamist terrorist group with links to IS, the East Indonesia Mujahideen, killed four Christian farmers working in a coffee plantation on 11 May 2021 in Central Sulawesi. Reported to have ten members, the East Indonesia Mujahideen’s operations are confined largely to Central Sulawesi province.
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and has seen a rise in hard-line Islamic ideology in recent years. A generation ago, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably as equals in accordance with Pancasila.