Eleven people have been killed following an attack on three churches by suicide bombers on Sunday, reported the BBC. The incident is estimated to be the deadliest attack in recent years to hit the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.
Media reports revealed that one family was behind all three attacks. A mother and her children blew themselves up at one church while the father and his two sons targeted two others.
The attacks, which occurred within minutes of each other in what seemed to have been a coordinated event, took place in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, in East Java. The assailants included suicide and possibly vehicle bombings, namely a motorcycle, for the execution of their attacks.
One of the hit churches was the Santa Maria Catholic church, where one of the attackers was killed when his bomb detonated.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Indonesia’s intelligence agency previously suspected an Islamic State-inspired group by the name of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah and not Islamic State itself.
According to local police, eleven people were killed while 40 wounded, including policemen, were in hospitals.
Churches in other cities, such as in Bandung, were guarded by police during mass.
Police bomb experts hurried to disarm still active explosives at Surabaya’s Pentacostal Church, reported Agence France Presse.
Although the country is majority Muslim in its population, there is a significant population of Buddhists, Hindus and Christians; the latter being specifically targeted in recent months. The large archipelago has seen a resurgence of Islamist militancy in recent months and years.
The last attack targeting Christians occurred in February, when a man attacked a church congregation with a sword in the town of Sleman. However, the country’s worst terror attack was in 2002 when bombings in the popular island of Bali left 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, dead. A gun and suicide attack followed in 2016 with four causalities.
Days earlier, five members of the Indonesian security forces were killed during a standoff with militant Islamist prisoners at a high-security prison on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.
The attacks come several days after five Indonesian police officers and a prisoner were killed in clashes that saw Islamist inmates take a guard hostage at a high-security jail on the outskirts of Jakarta.
A sustained crackdown weakened the most dangerous networks but the emergence of IS has proved a potent new rallying cry for radicals.