Surabaya, MINA — Indonesia’s national police chief says suicide bombers who attacked three churches in the country’s second-largest city were members of one family, including children and teens, stuff.co.nz reported.
At least 11 people died in the attacks in Surabaya on Sunday and more than 40 were injured.
The national police chief, Tito Karnavian, said the family had been in Syria, where the Islamic State group until recently controlled a large swath of territory.
He said the family’s father exploded a car bomb, two sons aged 18 and 16 used a motorbike in their attack and the mother was with two children aged 12 and 9. They targeted Sunday Mass congregations in three churches in Surabaya.
The bombings were the deadliest to target churches in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, since a series of attacks on Christmas Eve in 2000 killed 15 people and wounded nearly 100. Religious minorities in Indonesia, especially Christians, have been repeatedly targeted by militants.
The first attack struck the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church in Surabaya, killing four people, including one or more bombers, police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters at the scene. He said two police officers were among a total of 41 wounded.
The blast was followed by a second explosion minutes later at the Christian Church of Diponegoro and a third at the city’s Pantekosta Church, Mangera said.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived in Surabaya, the East Java provincial capital, in the aftermath of the attacks, Mangera said.
Woman with two bags
A witness described the woman, saying she was carrying two bags at the Diponegoro church.
“At first officers blocked them in front of the churchyard, but the woman ignored and forced her way inside. Suddenly she hugged a civilian then (the bomb) exploded,” said the witness, a civilian guard named Antonius.
A local police chief, David Triyo Prasojo, said a bomb squad detonated an unexploded bomb at the Diponegoro church.
Shattered glass and chunks of concrete littered the entrance of the Santa Maria Church, which was sealed off by heavily armed police. Rescue personnel treated victims on a nearby field while officers inspected wrecked motorcycles in the parking lot that had been burned in the explosion.
A street merchant outside the church said she was blown away several meters (yards) by the powerful blast.
“I saw two men riding a motorbike forced their way into the churchyard. One was wearing black pants and one with a backpack,” said the merchant, Samsia, who uses a single name. “Soon after that the explosion happened.”
In Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, the Indonesian Church Association strongly condemned the attacks and called on people to wait for authorities to investigate.
“We are angry with these attacks, but we leave it to the authorities to resolve them,” said Gormar Gultom, an official with the association.rovincial capital, in the aftermath of the attacks, Mangera said. (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)