A file image of Indonesian police conducting anti-terrorist investigations in East Java province on July 5, 2018, after an alleged terrorist detonated a homemade bomb. More recently police unsuccessfully negotiated with the wife of a suspected terrorist who detonated a bomb that killed herself and her two children in North Sumatra province on March 13. (Photo by Juni Kriswanto/AFP)
The wife of a suspected Islamic terrorist detonated a bomb killing herself plus her three children to avoid capture by police in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province.
The wife of terrorist suspect Husein, also known as Abu Hamzah, killed herself and her children in the early hours of March 13.
The explosive device that killed the woman and her children had been kept in the house by Hamzah, police said. Several police were also injured by the explosion.
Police suspect Hamzah was a member of terror group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, which is aligned with the so-called Islamic State. The police arrested Hamzah a day before the bombing deaths.
Police said they tried to persuade his wife to surrender for 12 hours before the explosion.
Jamaah Ansharut Daulah was accused of being behind the suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, East Java, that killed 18 people on May 13 last year. Two of the bombers in those attacks included two boys.
The group is also believed to be behind a riot at a police detention center on the outskirts of Jakarta which resulted in the death of five guards and a detainee just days before the 2018 bombings.
Stanislaus Riyanta, an intelligence analyst from the University of Indonesia, said groups affiliated with Islamic State have changed how they operate, moving from using larger groups to using harder-to-detect smaller units, including families, or lone wolves.
“These terrorists will justify any means to achieve their objectives," he said, including the sacrificing of women and children.
Father Sebastian Sihombing, Sibolga Diocese’s vicar general, said the recent bombing was "shocking."
"Sibolga was considered to be a safe place but now we have this case of terrorism," he said. “Now there is a fear now terror groups can attack at any time."
National police chief Tito Karnavian said Hamzah’s arrest was made after another terrorist suspect, Putra Syuhada, was arrested in Lampung province, also in Sumatra, on March 9.
The bombing deaths occurred two days ahead of President Joko Widodo's visit to North Sumatra on March 15-17.