Indonesia police arrest man over attempted bomb attack on Medan church

Police officers seen are on guard outside St. Yoseph Catholic Church on Jl. Dr Mansyur in Medan, North Sumatra on Sunday (August 28).
Police officers seen are on guard outside St. Yoseph Catholic Church on Jl. Dr Mansyur in Medan, North Sumatra on Sunday (August 28).PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Indonesian pastor Albert Pandiangan was slightly wounded in the suspected terror attack in his church in Medan, on Aug 28, 2016.
Indonesian pastor Albert Pandiangan was slightly wounded in the suspected terror attack in his church in Medan, on Aug 28, 2016.PHOTO: POLICE SOURCE
The identity card of the Indonesian teenager who carried out the attempted bomb attack on a Medan church on Aug 28, 2016 is seen along with a hand-drawn note with Arabic words written on it.
The identity card of the Indonesian teenager who carried out the attempted bomb attack on a Medan church on Aug 28, 2016 is seen along with a hand-drawn note with Arabic words written on it.PHOTO: POLICE SOURCE
The suspect's backpack, which allegedly contained a small explosive device that he tried to set off during the morning mass at the St Yoseph Catholic Church in Medan on Aug 28, 2016.
The suspect's backpack, which allegedly contained a small explosive device that he tried to set off during the morning mass at the St Yoseph Catholic Church in Medan on Aug 28, 2016.PHOTO: POLICE SOURCE

JAKARTA - Indonesian police have arrested a teenager after he attempted to attack a church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, with a homemade bomb.

The 17-year-old man was sitting among the morning mass congregation at the St. Yoseph Catholic Church on Sunday (Aug 28).

He had with him a backpack purportedly containing a small explosive device, North Sumatra provincial police spokeswoman Rina Sari Ginting told reporters.

According to eyewitness Nana Manullang who was sitting next to him, the teenager had been “assembling a suspected bomb”, comprising of a battery and a pipe hidden in a gold jacket before the attack, she said.

He then stood up, with his backpack giving off “smoke, sparks and faint sounds of firecrackers”, and rushed towards a pastor near a pulpit, attacking the latter with a knife. The pastor was left slightly wounded in his left arm. Members of the congregation then restrained him, she added.

National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar confirmed the attack, saying that the police are “examining the perpetrator’s backpack”. He added that the attacker was still alive and there were no casualties.

Police spokesman Agus Rianto said “for certain, there was an explosion like firecrackers”.

According to a source close to the investigation, police have confiscated several items, including a backpack, a knife, and a note with “La ilaha illallah” in Arabic written on it. The Arabic phrase is a declaration of the Islamic faith which means “there is no God but Allah”.

The identity card on the teenager stated his name as Ivan Armadi Hasugian, a student from Medan.

Police have identified the pastor as 60-year-old Albert Pandiangan.

Indonesia has been the target of several terror threats in recent months, and counter-terrorism police have launched a crackdown on people with suspected links to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

A Jan 14 terrorist attack in Jakarta killed eight people, and a July 5 suicide attack near a local police station in Solo city killed the bomber and injured a policeman.

aarlina@sph.com.sg