Islamic State claims responsibility for church attacks carried out by members of a single family
by Mathias Hariyadi

The family of six – father, mother, two daughters and two sons – belonged to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a group linked to the Islamic State group. So far, 13 people are known to have died and 45 wounded. President Widodo visited the crime scenes and the victims. Archbishop of Pontianak calls for a defence of pluralism. The Muslim organisation Nahdlatul Ulama urges the authorities to provide better security for the population, slamming hostile acts based on manipulating religion.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – This morning’s suicide attacks against three churches in Surabaya are the work of members of a single family, this according to Indonesian Police Chief General Tito Karnavian.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon in Surabaya’s Bhayangkara hospital, the police chief said that the terror attack was "likely done by one family with tasks assigned to its various members." The father, identified as "D", probably carried out the car bomb attack against the Pentecostal church in Jalan Arjuna. Earlier, he left his wife, "PK", and their two little daughters in front of a church of the Christian Church of Indonesia (GKI) in Diponegoro. According to witnesses, the mother put a bomb on one of the girls. The blast killed all three.

The attacks by the father and the mother took place almost simultaneously. A few minutes earlier their two sons detonated a bomb at the St Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Nagel, killing a man called Bayu, a local security volunteer who tried to stop the brothers who were on a motorcycle. His intervention stopped the latter before they could reach the entrance to the church just before the start of the 7.30 Mass, the second of the day. Unable to get any closer, the suicide bombers detonated their device, contained in a backpack, killing themselves and the security guard, who leaves a wife and a child.

Islamic State and its local ties

According to General Karnavian, what is certain is that the family – parents, two daughters and two sons – belonged to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a terrorist group whose leader Aman Abdurrahman is currently being held at the maximum security prison at the headquarters of the Mobile Brigade Corps (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, where riots by jailed terrorists broke out last Wednesday (9 May) leaving six police agents dead. JAD is allied with the Islamic State (IS) group.

Later in the day, IS claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement carried by Aamaq News agency website.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo went to the crime scenes and visited the wounded. "This act of terror is extremely cruel and beyond our humanity,” he said. He also ordered the military and intelligence agencies to work with police to hunt down the terrorists and their "underground groups". Likewise, he called on “the Indonesian people to curb terrorism and radicalism which go against our moral values and pluralism.”

Meanwhile, the death toll has reached 13 with 45 wounded. One Catholic family lost the father and a son, whilst the mother is in serious condition and another child lost a leg.

Some regions including Jakarta and Maluku (Molucca) Islands have declared red alert.

The archbishop and Muslim leaders

Speaking to AsiaNews, the Archbishop of Pontianak (West Kalimantan), Mgr Augustinus Agus, condemned the new acts of terror. He strongly urged “the Indonesian Government to provide security to all the Indonesian people” and called on “my fellow Christians and Catholics to become messengers of peace and love. Let us pray for all the parts of the nation because together we can preserve justice and peace in accordance with the spirit of Pancasila, and thus respect pluralism."

Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), also condemned the attacks, urging the government to take "decisive action" to guarantee the security of the population. "Every act of hostility that manipulates religion is not supported by Islam," it said in a statement.

Earlier today, after the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the attacks and for the Indonesian people.