Police in Indonesia suspect a newlywed couple with possible ties to a terrorist group were the suicide bombers who attacked a Catholic Church on Palm Sunday, numerous sources reported.
Twenty people, including church guards and worshipers, were injured in the attack outside of Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar on Sunday while mass was concluding. The couple believed to be the suicide bombers were married six months prior to the attack, and police were investigating their home, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. (RELATED: Suicide Bombers Attack Catholic Church In Indonesia On Palm Sunday)
Police identified the couple through DNA and fingerprint testing Monday, according to Agence France-Presse. The couple’s neighbors identified the man as Lukman and his wife as Dewi, and said they were between the ages of 23 and 26 years old, the AP reported. Police identified them by the initials “L” and “YSF.”
The male suspect left his family a suicide note that said he was ready to die as a martyr, according to AFP. The couple were reportedly part of an Islamic study group and several of the nine suspects arrested over their alleged roles in the attack also belonged to the group.
“They each had their own role, including buying the ingredients, teaching bomb making, creating the explosives and using them,” National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said, according to AFP.
Investigators said the couple used pressure cookers with explosive materials and nails to maximize the damage the attack would cause. The bombers detonated the device when church security guards confronted them, the AP reported.
Raids at the couple’s home and several other locations revealed numerous powerful explosives and bomb-making materials, authorities said, according to AFP.
One Makassar resident told AFP the male suspect was a street food seller who was a “nice kid,” but became reclusive as he got older.
“He was nice as a kid … but when he got older he didn’t really socialise around here,” Nuraini, the Makassar resident, told AFP.
The couple were believed to have been members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD), an extremist group that is affiliated with the Islamic State network in Indonesia. One of the Makassar bombers is believed to have had links to a 2019 suicide attack that killed nearly two dozen people at a Catholic Church in the Philippines in 2019, the AP reported.
Indonesia has the world’s largest share of Muslims and has faced rising religious extremism, according to NPR. Extremists have targeted churches in the past in Indonesia. In 2018, a family of militant Islamists bombed three churches in Surabaya, killing 12. The clan of terrorists was believed to have ties to JAD.
Days after, another family of suicide bombers attacked a police department’s headquarters, the BBC reported.