Four masked men with machine guns and riding on two Yamaha motorcycles reportedly burst in to the Efatah Church in Palu, capital of the Central Sulawesi region in Indonesia, leaving at least two dead and nine wounded. The attack took place on Sunday, July 18 during the church's 6 p.m. service.
According to UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Reverend Susianty Tinulele, 26, was shot dead in the pulpit as one of the masked men shot him from the front door, while two others started shooting at the congregation. Desrianti Tengkede, 17, was shot through her right eye and died later in hospital.
A total of 11 members of the congregation were shot, four of whom were seriously wounded. Some sources suggest that the four men, possibly from Laskar Mujahadeen (Warrior Defenders of the Faith) or another militant group, are the same men who were responsible for the assassination of Freddy Silalahi in May. Silalahi was one of the state prosecutors overseeing the trial of five members of Jemaah Islamiyah (a radical Islamist movement).
This attack is the latest in a worrying new trend where militants are targeting Christian leaders and churches. Another Christian, Helmy Tombiling, 35, was stabbed to death in front of her house in Poso city, Sulawesi, on July 17, according to the Crisis Centre of North Sulawesi. Again the assailants were two masked men on a motorcycle with a Palu licence plate.