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Indonesian police kill suspected cathedral bomb plotters

Two men shot in South Sulawesi thought to have been linked to deadly 2019 blast in Jolo in the Philippines

Indonesian police kill suspected cathedral bomb plotters

Soldiers examine the entrance to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the southern Philippine town of Jolo after twin explosions killed at least 20 people and injured about 100 others on Jan. 27, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Philippine military's Western Mindanao Command)

Indonesian anti-terrorist police have shot dead two suspected militants they believe were linked to the bombing of a Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines in 2019.

Muhammad Rizaldy, 46, and his son-in-law Sanjai Ajis, 23, were shot dead on Jan. 6 in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, when the Densus 88 counter-terrorism squad raided a hideout of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a terror group affiliated with the Islamic State.

Police said both men were killed as they resisted arrest. Another man was seriously injured and taken to hospital.

Another 17 alleged members of the group who police claimed were involved in various attacks in Indonesia were arrested.

National police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan said different types of bombs, weapons, and books on jihad were found during the raid.
 
“We think the two dead suspects provided financial and material support for suicide bombers who attacked a Roman Catholic church in Jolo in the southern Philippines,” Ramadhan said.

On Jan. 27, 2019, twin explosions devastated the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo  in the Philippine region of Mindanao, killing 22 worshippers and injuring at least 100 during a Sunday Mass.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack but authorities in Indonesia and the Philippines believe the attack was carried out by an Indonesian couple, Rullie Rian Zeke and Ulfah Handayani Saleh, both of whom were members of the JAD.

Rizaldy and Ajis were also believed to have provided support for Andi Baso, another suspect in the Jolo bombing, and an attack on a church in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, in 2017 that killed a 3-year-old girl.

Philippine and Indonesian police are still looking for Baso in connection with the attacks.

JAD members were also behind a series of suicide bombings at churches in Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya in May 2018, killing many congregants. 

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Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia, said that on Jan. 6 police also arrested at least 10 members of another terrorist group called Anshor Daulah Islamiyah.

He said the JAD often recruits new members through social media, preaching and even through families. “Those arrested were related to each other,” he said.

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