Christians Killed in ISIS-inspired Suicide Bomb Attacks on Three Churches In Indonesia

At least 13 people are dead with 40 others wounded after three churches in Indonesia were attacked by a family of suicide bombers with alleged ties to an Islamic State-inspired group during Sunday morning services. 

A family of six is believed to have launched the suicide attacks targeting the Santa Maria Catholic Church, the Indonesian Christian Church and the Pentecost Central Church in Surabaya, a port city on Java Island's east coast, East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told CNN. 

“The husband drove the car, an Avanza, that contained explosives and rammed it into the gate in front of that church,” Barung Mangera told reporters at the regional police headquarters in Surabaya.

He said the wife and two daughters in the family were involved in an attack on a second church, while at the third church, “two other children rode the motorbike and had the bomb across their laps."

He said the two daughters were aged 12 and 9 while the other two, thought to be the man’s sons, were 18 and 16, police said.

Barung Mangera told Reuters that an unexploded device at an undisclosed location had also been “secured."

He urged the public to remain calm, saying at a news conference, according to Reuters, “all places where the public can gather, security has been tightened in those places.”

So far, there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

However, Wawan Purwanto, communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency said ISIS-influenced group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) is suspected of being behind the bombings, Reuters reported.

JAD, which is listed on the U.S. State Department's "terrorist" list, is believed to have the support of hundreds of ISIS sympathizers in Indonesia. 

The attacks come just days after militant Islamist prisoners killed five members of a counter-terrorism force in a 36-hour standoff at a high security jail just outside Jakarta.

Purwanto said the church attacks were likely linked to the prison attack, telling Reuters: “The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative [targets] if the main targets are blocked."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to visit survivors of the attack in Surabaya on Sunday. 

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Masudi condemned the attacks, writing on Twitter:  “We will not back down in the fight against terrorism."

In recent years, Indonesia, which is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has seen a rise in attacks inspired by ISIS.

Last May, two suicide bombers with suspected links to ISIS attacked a bus station in the country's capital, Jakarta, killing at least three police officers, with several other officers and civilians wounded.

In 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing near a Starbucks in Jakarta that left two people dead and 24 wounded. 

This story has been updated with more information.

Join the Discussion