Family of suicide bombers targeted Indonesian churches

Thirteen  people were killed and dozens injured after a family of six, including four children, carried out suicide bombings on three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya early on Sunday, agencies report.

The family were believed to be among 500 Indonesians who recently returned to Indonesia from Syria. They included two girls aged 12 and 9 and two brothers aged 18 and 16, said national police chief Tito Karnavian.

The first attack at the Santa Maria church was carried out around 7.30 am (0030 GMT) by the two brothers by detonating explosives planted on the motorcycle they came on. It was followed by blasts at Surabaya Centre Pentacostal Church and Diponegoro Christian Church, all in a gap of 10 minutes. One of the suicide bombers had two children lying by her side in one of the bombed churches.

State and federal intelligence agencies said an Islamic State-linked group, Jemaat Ansharud Daulah (JAD), may be behind the attacks. The group had planned to hit police targets on May 11 but security forces were well prepared and the group chose another date and target for the strike.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo described the attacks as cruel and inhuman and urged people to unite in the fight against terrorism in the country.

TV footage showed the mangled remains of the motorcycle used in the blast in front of Santa Maria church, a vehicle in flames in front of the .Pentacostal church and bomb squads hunting for still active explosives.

The blasts came four days after inmates linked a radical group killed five police officers during a revolt at a detention centre near Jakarta.

Attacks against minorities are increasing in Indonesia over the past two years. A radical Islamist armed with a sword was shot and injured by police after he attacked four devotees at a Sunday mass in a church in the town of Sleman in February this year.

The first assault by Islamic State in Southeast Asia took place in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January 2016. Eight people, including four attackers, were killed in multiple blasts and gunfire.