Suicide bombers target Indonesia churches

JAKARTA (The Straits Times/ANN)  - At least 11 killed as family of suicide bombers attack three Indonesia churches.

Bombings at three churches in Surabaya, in Indonesia's East Java province, during Sunday mass on May 13 have left at least 11 people dead and many injured, with the attacks carried out by a family of suicide bombers, according to the police.  

The attacks took place at the Santa Maria Church in the Ngagel Madya area of Indonesia's second-largest and busiest city, the Surabaya Centre Pentacostal Church and the GKI Diponegoro Church.

Police chief General Tito Karnavian said ISIS-affiliated terror network Jemaah Ansharut Daulah was behind the attacks and that all of the bombers were members of the same family.

East Java provincial police spokesman Colonel Frans Barung Mangera told reporters a total of 41 injured victims from the attacks have been sent to hospital. At least two of the injured were police officers on duty guarding the churches.

Gen Tito said the attack at GKI Diponegoro Church was carried out by a woman with a belt bomb. She was accompanied by het two daughters, aged 9 and 12. This was the first-ever suicide bombing by a woman in Indonesia.

Two of her elder sons, aged 18 and 16, attacked the Santa Maria Church. They were on a motorcycle and carried the bomb on their lap.

Her husband, who was on a car, staged the third bombing at  Surabaya Centre Pentacostal Church.

A planned attack on a fourth church, Cathedral Church, was foiled with the arrest of a suspected bomber.

A police bomb squad also safely detonated an unexploded bomb that was discovered at the Surabaya Centre Pentacostal Church.

A member of the police bomb squad unit examines the site of an explosion outside the Immaculate Santa Maria Catholic Church, in Surabaya, Indonesia on May 13, 2018.

"All elements were quickly deployed to all vital places, especially places of worships. Three churches were attacked. Police arrested a person that was about to attack the otherwise a fourth target, the Cathedral Church. It has been foiled," Surabaya deputy mayor Mr Wisnu Sakti Buana told Elshinta radio.

Elshinta cited eye witnesses and local residents as saying that the bombings all occurred at around 7am.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo condemned the attacks, noting the use of children to facilitate one of the attacks.

Graphic video footage and photographs from the site of the Santa Maria Church bombing showed several injured people lying prone on the ground and a boy covered in blood being carried away. The road outside the church was blocked. The bomb was probably detonated at the gate of the Santa Maria Church .

Meanwhile, Jakarta police spokesman Inspector General Setyo Wasisto said at a press conference that police killed four terrorists of the JAD terror network in Cianjur, West Java province, at around 2am on Sunday.

"We seized, among others, revolvers and a bow with arrowheads that contain explosive," Inspector General Setyo said.

"They were on their way to Brimob (Mobile Brigade Corps) headquarters. We tailed them from Sukabumi (West Java) and when we reached Cianjur, they were aware of being stalked and they attempted to flee. Our officers tried to stop them, had gunfights and managed to take them down."

The terrorists were identified as BCA (age 43), AR (32), HS (23) and BBN (whose age is unknown).

After the terrorists were killed in the exchange of gunfire, police arrested two terror suspects in West Java. One of them,  known only by the  initial G, was arrested in Sukabumi, while the other - initialled M - was apprehended in Cikarang.

Inspector General Setyo said police were investigating if the terrorists were linked to the Surabaya attacks. The four terrorists were from the JAD - greater Jakarta network.

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