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Terrorist suicide families wreak havoc in Indonesia

Many dead, injured in bomb bliz targeting churches, police HQ in country's second city Surabaya

Terrorist suicide families wreak havoc in Indonesia

Indonesian police examine a site following a bomb attack outside a Pentecostal Church which was one of three churches bombed in Surabaya, East Java on May 13. The city's police headquarters were targeted by suicide bombers the next day. (Photo by Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta
Indonesia

May 14, 2018

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Christian leaders have called for unity following a spate of suicide bombings that targeted three churches, an apartment building and the police headquarters in Indonesia's second city that has left many people dead and scores hurt in the deadliest attacks in more than a decade.

Early on May 14, a family of five, that included three children, carried out a suicide bombing on two motorcycles at the police headquarters in East Java's provincial capital Surabaya, police said.

At least one fatality was confirmed, but initial reports said at least seven people were dead including four of the attackers, and that 10 people were injured, including four policemen.

An 8-year-old girl, who was reportedly with the family, survived the blast and was being treated in hospital, East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said.

The attack followed a series of bombings a day earlier in the city that killed at least 17 people. Three suicide blasts were committed by one family — a husband, wife and four children — against three churches in the town.

The first bombing was carried out by the couple's sons aged 18 and 16 in the car park of the Santa Maria Catholic Church, the second was by the wife, and their two daughters aged 12 and 9 at the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church and the third was detonated outside the Surabaya Central Pentecost Church. 

The attacks killed at least 14 people, and left more than 40 injured, according to police.

One of the casualties at Santa Maria Church was Aloysius Bayu Rendra Wardhana who was killed trying to prevent the suicide bombers from entering the church compound.

Father Alexius Kurdo Irianto, the priest at the Santa Maria church praised the bravery and sacrifice of Wardhana.

"If he had not stopped the bombers, there would have been more victims [inside the church]," he said.

The victim's mother said the family was "proud to have a martyr who gave his life to save hundreds of people attending Sunday Mass inside the church building."

"He had completed his service in this world. He was called to serve the Lord in heaven," Rosalia Siswaty wrote on Facebook.

On that same day, police said they later detonated four bombs found in the house of the family who carried out the bombings. 

Another blast also occurred at a low-cost apartment killing three people.

Indonesian President Joko called the attacks "The act of cowards, undignified and barbaric."

National Police chief General Tito Karnavian said the Islamic State-inspired Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD), or Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) groups were likely responsible for the attacks.

The leaders of both groups are currently in prison. The JAD leader, Aman Abdurrahman, is serving time in the police detention center in Depok, West Java that saw a deadly riot on May 9 that killed five policemen and one prisoner.

"Because their leaders are detained, their groups could be retaliating," said Karnavian,

He said the attacks could also be in retaliation to the arrest of two suspected terrorists and the deaths of four others on May 4 in Bogor, West Java province.

Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Aceh, said the bombings marked a change in tactics by the terrorists. 

They are deploying women and girls as jihadists "because people will not suspect them," he told ucanews.com.

Father Agustinus Ulahayanan, executive secretary of the bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, denounced the bombings and called on Catholics and other Christians to unite and be vigilant.

"We must not be afraid. We must tighten security," he said.

Indonesia's largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama, called on people "to stay calm" and "to continue showing solidarity for humanity." 

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