A parking attendant at the site of the Makassar suicide bombing has been hailed as a hero for preventing what could have been a significantly higher body count from the attack.
Kosmas Balembang was at the Sacred Heart Cathedral parking lot when the two suicide bombers — a married couple — intended to drive their motorcycle past the gate to the house of worship while congregants were starting to leave following Palm Sunday Mass.
“At the time, some congregants were leaving, and the gate was being opened. As some were leaving, [the bombers] wanted to enter, but I stopped them and all of a sudden there was an explosion. All I could say was, ‘God help me,’” Kosmas told government officials during their visit to the Bhayangkara National Police Hospital in Makassar, where victims are being treated.
The 51-year-old said he was a mere 2 meters away from the bombers, who carried a pressure cooker bomb, at the moment of the blast. Somehow, Kosmas survived with minor burn wounds.
A video of a shellshocked Kosmas, who had patches of blood on his shirt, describing what he saw moments after the blast had previously gone viral.
The two bombers died during the blast. Police said they were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), one of the most active IS-backed local terror groups in Indonesia, which was also responsible for the deadly suicide bombings on churches and a police station in East Java in 2018.
Authorities said 19 people were wounded, including cathedral staff and congregants who were attending mass at the time.