Rick Warren: Suicide Bomber Attacks Saddleback's Sister Church in Indonesia

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By Nicola Menzie, Christian Post Reporter
September 25, 2011|10:25 am

A suicide bomber has attacked an Indonesia church affiliated with Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Southern California, killing at least two people and injuring several others.

In a "Purpose Driven Network Alert" published on his Facebook page and Twitter account, Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, alerted followers to the attack in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He wrote: "Purpose Driven Network Alert: Our sister church in Solo City, Indonesia, Bethel Full Gospel Church, has just been bombed."

The attack in Solo, Indonesia, came as throngs of worshippers were preparing to leave after gathering Sunday at Bethel Full Gospel Church (also referred to as Church Bethel Injil) in the capital city of Java.

According to police, the unidentified suicide bomber died in the attack, and an injured worshipper succumbed to injuries at a hospital. At least 17 people were believed to have been injured.

One worshipper, Kristano, told AFP, "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."

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

According to an AFP correspondent, the bomber, believed to have blown himself up directly in front of the church, was wearing a white shirt and black pants and had his left hand severed.

The attack was apparently captured by church surveillance cameras and officials expect to use the footage to identify the suicide bomber, Australian news agency ABC News reports.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, allows for religious freedom with its constitution. However, religious tensions occasionally flare in the Asian country, with Christians being targeted.

On Sept. 11, six people were killed and an estimated 80 injured after violent clashes between Christians and Muslims in Ambon.

On Aug. 28, armed attackers stormed a Christian neighborhood in the same city, killing at least 12 people.

Conflicts between Christians and Muslims between 1999 and 2002 have left more than 5,000 people dead and half a million people displaced, according to BBC News.

Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has condemned Sunday's attack on Bethel Full Gospel Church, calling it "terrorism."

The city of Solo is also radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir's hometown. Bashir is considered the spiritual leader for the group that killed more than 200 people in Bali in 2002, according to media reports.

The Christian Post was unable to reach Saddleback Church for comment and for greater clarification on its relationship with Bethel Full Gospel Church in Solo by press time.

 

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