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Indonesian archbishop survives 'two assassination bids'

Planned suicide bombings were aborted because Papua prelate happened to be out of town

Indonesian archbishop survives 'two assassination bids'

Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke in Papua was reportedly targeted by Islamic suicide bombers during two failed assassination attempts this year. (Photo: Konradus Epa/UCA News)

An Indonesian archbishop in Christian-majority Papua says he was twice targeted this year by Islamic terrorists who planned to meet with him and blow themselves up.

Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi said the terrorists planned to kill him at his residence and at the cathedral in Merauke, the country’s easternmost city.  

He said police told him about the assassination attempts this week after questioning a suspected terrorist arrested with 10 others during raids in southern Papua on May 28.

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Archbishop Mandagi said the first attempt was on Jan. 1 when he arrived in Merauke after being appointed archbishop. 

“A terrorist was waiting for me at the bishop's house, but he only spoke to the archbishop’s secretary. He had a backpack full of explosives and was pretending to look for a boarding house,” the prelate said. 

He said the plot failed because he was away for the day visiting a village on an official engagement.

God is greater than the evil power possessing the terrorists

The second attempt was supposed to be at Sunday Mass on May 30 at Merauke cathedral, but that failed because the archbishop was again out of town. 

“God is greater than the evil power possessing the terrorists,” Archbishop Mandagi told UCA News. “God defends and protects us. But we must always be alert and careful.” 

The archbishop thanked police for warning him of the threats and called on them to remain vigilant to prevent any atrocities taking place. 

Merauke police chief Untung Sangaji confirmed the plots against the prelate were real, adding it was pure luck that the archbishop was out of town on both occasions.  

He said the suspected terrorists arrested on May 28 were linked to the Islamic State-affiliated Jamaah Ansarut Daulah terrorist group blamed for a suicide bombing at Makassar cathedral in South Sulawesi province on Palm Sunday. 

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