Suicide Bomber Strikes Indonesian Mosque
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) - A suicide bomber blew himself up in an Indonesian mosque Friday, wounding 26 people in militants' first attack against a mosque in the predominantly Muslim country, officials said.
The bombing occurred during prayers inside a police compound in the West Java town of Cirebon, and many of the victims were officers.
They were rushed to hospitals with wounds to their arms, legs and torsos, said Yeni Rahmawati, a hospital spokeswoman.
Indonesia, a secular, predominantly Muslim nation of 237 million, has been hit by a string of al-Qaida-linked terrorist attacks since the 2002 bombings on two crowded Bali nightclubs.
Many of the 260 people killed in those attacks have been foreign tourists.
In the last year, however, militants seeking to carve out an Islamic state have said the country's moderate leaders and security forces would be their main targets. They've attacked several police posts since then, but never a mosque.
West Java police chief, Maj. Gen. Suparni Parto, told El-Shinta radio the mangled body of the suicide bomber was found at the scene.
The man was apparently wearing a suicide vest beneath his black Islamic robes and sitting among dozens of worshippers when he set off the bomb, said Agus Riyanto, a police spokesman. The bomber shouted "God is Great" as he detonated his device, authorities said.
Though militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq have not hesitated to attack mosques where their enemies have gathered, this represents a first for Indonesia.
"It's really worrisome," said Mardigu Wawiek Prasantyo, an intelligence analyst, noting that the bombing during Friday holy prayers points to a "hardening of militants."
Most of Indonesia's 210 million Muslims are moderates with no tolerance of violence.
Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.