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Man With Machete Attacks Christians During Church Service


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A sword-wielding man in Indonesia attacked a church congregation Sunday, seriously injuring four people. 

About 100 parishioners were gathered for Sunday mass in Sleman district in Yogyakarta province when a congregation member barged in the church bleeding from his head. Following closely behind him was a 22-year-old man with a long sword. Once inside, the attacker began assaulting people indiscriminately and destroying Christian symbols. 

"Everybody started panicking and screaming. I was scrambling to save my wife and children," one worshipper Andhi Cahyo told AFP.

Local police arrived on the scene shortly after the attack began and fired a warning shot at the man. 

"After the warning shot was fired, the attacker charged towards the officer with his sword. The officer then shot him below his stomach, but he managed to injure the cop before being subdued," Cahyo said.

Several people were injured by the attacker, including 81-year-old German priest Edmund Prier who was standing at the altar. 

"Four people have been injured in the incident -- quite seriously -- but we still cannot determine the perpetrator's motive," Yogyakarta police spokesman Yulianto told AFP. "For now we cannot conclude this is related to terrorism. We need to dig out more details and question the perpetrator."

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country on earth. There have been several reports of isolated Islamic attacks against Christians in the country. 

Persecution watchdog organization Open Doors ranks Indonesia as 38 on their list of the world's most dangerous countries to be a Christian. 

"While violent persecution affects only a small percentage of Christians in Indonesia, the overall situation for believers has deteriorated in recent years. This is especially true in hot spots like West Java, where radical Islamic groups are powerful, exerting heavy influence on society and politics. These radical groups cause problems for churches that proselytize Muslims and often pressure government officials to ignore applications for construction of church buildings. Meanwhile, converts from Islam usually face persecution from their own families, particularly in the form of isolation and verbal abuse," Open Doors said on its website. 

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