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Three Churches Bombed In Indonesia

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Three Churhces Bombed in Indonesia
A member of the bomb squad outside a church in Surabaya, Indonesia (Source, The Guardian)
Three Churches Bombed In Indonesia

At least 11 people have been killed and dozens injured in multiple suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, in a coordinated attack police said was carried out by one family and their children.

The Indonesian police chief, Tito Karniavan, told reporters that investigators believed one family – a husband and wife, and their four children aged between nine and 18 – were the perpetrators of the worst attack the country has seen in more than a decade.

The first explosion at the Santa Maria Catholic church, which killed four people, was followed by attacks at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church and GKI Diponegoro church minutes later on Sunday.

Police identified the mother as Puji Kuswanti and said that she and her two daughters, Fadila Sari, 12, and Pamela Rizkita, nine, bombed the GKI Diponegoro church.

Members of The Suspected Family
Members of The Suspected Family

At the same time, the family’s two teenage sons, Yusuf, 18 and Alif, 16, rode motorcycles close to the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic church, where they detonated their bombs. Their father, Dita, drove a car bomb into the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church.

The blasts occurred within minutes of each other, just after 7.30am on Sunday morning as parishioners were heading into the churches for services.

Karniavan said he suspected the family involved had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria, where hundreds of Indonesians have travelled to join Islamic State, including entire families.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks through its media agency, Amaq, but did not produce any evidence for the claim.

President Joko Widodo joined Karniavan on a visit to the scene in Surabaya on Sunday. They jointly condemned the attacks as barbaric.

East Java’s police spokesman, Frans Barung Mangera, said 41 injured people were sent to hospital on Sunday, among them two officers who were guarding the churches.

The coordinated attacks in the predominantly Muslim country came days before the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Police ordered the temporary closure of all churches in Surabaya on Sunday, and a large food festival in the city was cancelled.

Indonesia is home to significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists but there are concerns over rising intolerance. Extremists have mounted a series of attacks against Christians and other minorities in recent years.

Sunday’s attacks were the deadliest since 2005, when a series of car bombs killed 23 people on the resort island of Bali. The worst terror attack in Indonesia was the Bali bombing of 2002, when 202 people were killed.

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