Suicide bomber attacks packed Indonesian church

Suicide bomber attacks packed Indonesian church

The morning bombing in the city of Solo, in Central Java, was the latest in a spate of attacks on minority religious groups in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation. Solo, a city of 500,000, is the home of militant Islamist spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir, who was jailed in June for 15 years for funding a terrorist group that was planning attacks against Westerners and political leaders.

Kristanto, a worshipper, said he and his wife were getting ready to leave at the end of the service at the Bethel Injil Church when the bomb rocked the building.

"I was about to head home when a very loud explosion shocked me. A crowd of people from inside the church rushed to the streets," he told AFP.

"They were screaming and very hysterical. The peaceful Sunday has quickly become a chaotic situation."

"I helped several people who were injured and lying weak on the ground," said the badly shaken 53-year-old, who goes by one name.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the bomber was part of a network based in Cirebon, 300 kilometres west of Jakarta, where in April a suicide bomber attacked a police mosque, killing only himself and wounding 30 with a bomb of nails, nuts and bolts.

"This suicide bomber was a member of the terrorist network in Cirebon we mentioned a few months ago. I have called for a thorough investigation to find out more on this group, including who funds and leads them," Yudhoyono said in a televised statement.

"On behalf of the country and my government, I strongly condemn terrorist acts as an extraordinary evil."

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