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Priest is attacked by Isis-inspired teen with axe after his backpack bomb fails to explode

By Alexandra Sims

Published 29/08/2016

Bomb squad personnel carry an explosive from the Saint Joseph church
Bomb squad personnel carry an explosive from the Saint Joseph church
Indonesian police guard a blindfolded suspect after a priest was attacked in Medan yesterday

Indonesian police are investigating a suspected terror attack after a would-be suicide bomber carrying a "hand-drawn Isis symbol" attacked a priest with an axe and failed to detonate explosives in a church.

The 18-year-old assailant ran towards the priest during a crowded Sunday Mass in Medan, after a bomb in his backpack burned without exploding, national police spokesman Major General Boy Rafli Amar said.

The attacker also took an axe from his backpack and used it to attack 60-year-old Rev Albert Pandiangan before he was restrained by church-goers, Major General Amar said.

There were no serious casualties, but the priest sustained a minor injury to his hand and the attacker was also injured, police in Medan city in northern Sumatra told Reuters.

The teenager was found with a symbol indicating support for the so-called Islamic State.

Images published in local media of objects confiscated from the teenager by police show his ID along with what appears to be a hand-drawn Isis flag.

A member of the congregation, who gave their name as Vero, told the Jakarta Post the attacker was "fidgety the whole time" during the service and "because of the weakness of the explosion, he was caught, so he got up and went to the altar, going after the priest while wielding sharp weapons."

Timbas Ginting, a witness present in the church, told Reuters the attacker had sat with other worshippers before running toward the priest.

"There was a small explosion like fireworks and he also took out a knife as he ran toward the priest," he said.

A bomb squad later arrived at the church to investigate whether the assailant was carrying other explosives.

Rina Sari Ginting, a spokeswoman for Medan police, said: "A terrorism act was carried out on Sunday morning at the Saint Joseph catholic church. Police are interrogating the perpetrator... and will search his house for any bomb-making materials."

Mr Amar said the attacker told authorities he had not been working alone. No more details have been given.

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