Indonesian archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi has stated that he has already been targeted twice this year by Islamic terrorists. The terrorists allegedly were planning on meeting with him and then blowing themselves up. The two attempts to kill him were at his residence at first and then at the cathedral in Merauke, the easternmost city in Indonesia.
On May 28, police conducted raids on suspected terrorists in southern Papua. After questioning the eleven suspected terrorists, they found out about the assassination attempts and informed the archbishop.
According to UCA News, Archbishop Mandagi of the Christian-majority province of Papua said that the first attempt was on January 1. He had just moved to Merauke after being appointed archbishop. The archbishop stated that, “A terrorist was waiting for me at the bishop’s house, but he only spoke to the archbishop’s secretary. He had a backpack full of explosives and was pretending to look for a boarding house.” The plot only failed because the archbishop happened to be away for a day visiting a village.
The terrorists planned their second attempt for May 30, where the archbishop was supposed to be presiding over Sunday Mass at the Meruake cathedral. However, this attempt also was thwarted since the archbishop was out of town again.
The archbishop told UCA News, “God is greater than the evil power possessing the terrorists. God defends and protects us. But we must always be alert and careful.”
Merauke police chief Utung Sangaji confirmed the ploots. He stated that it was pure luck that the archbishop happened to be out of town on both occasions. The suspected terrorists arrested in the May 28 raid were linked to the Islamic State-affiliated Jamaah Ansurat Daulah terrorist group. This group has been blamed for a recent suicide bombing at the Makassar cathedral in South Sulawesi province on Palm Sunday.