Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Bombings claim 13 in Indonesia

AP, SURABAYA, Indonesia

Police officers inspect the scene of a bomb blast in front of a church in Surabaya, Indonesia, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Suicide bombers who yesterday carried out deadly attacks on three churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city were a family of six that included two young children, police said, as the world’s most populous Muslim nation recoiled in horror at one of the worst attacks on its Christian minority.

At least 13 people, including all six family members, died in the attacks in Surabaya and at least 41 people were injured, police said, in acts that Indonesia’s president celled “barbaric.”

The bombings were the worst to target churches in Indonesia since a series of attacks on Christmas Eve in 2000 killed 15 people and wounded nearly 100 others.

Religious minorities in Indonesia, especially Christians, have been repeatedly targeted by militants.

The father exploded a car bomb, two sons, aged 16 and 18, used a motorcycle for their attack, and the mother was with daughters, aged nine and 12, for her attack, national police chief Tito Karnavian said.

The family had returned to Indonesia from Syria, where until recently the Islamic State (IS) group controlled significant territory, Karnavian said.

The extremist group claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.

The first attack struck the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church in Surabaya, police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters at the scene.

That blast was followed by a second explosion minutes later at the Christian Church of Diponegoro and a third at the city’s Pantekosta Church, Mangera said.

A witness described the woman’s attack at the Diponegoro church, saying she was carrying two bags when she arrived.

“At first officers blocked them in front of the churchyard, but the woman ignored them and forced her way inside. Suddenly she hugged a civilian then [the bomb] exploded,” said the witness, a security guard who identified himself as Antonius.

Mangera said three unexploded homemade bombs, two at the Pantekosta church and one at the Diponegoro church, were detonated by a bomb squad.

Shattered glass and chunks of concrete littered the entrance of the Santa Maria Church, which was sealed off by police.

Rescue personnel treated victims at a nearby field, while officers inspected wrecked motorcycles in the parking lot that had been burned in the explosion.

A street merchant outside the church said she was blown several meters by the blast.

“I saw two men riding a motorbike force their way into the churchyard. One was wearing black pants and one with a backpack,” said the merchant, Samsia, who uses a single name. “Soon after that the explosion happened.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the scenes of the attacks and described them as “cowardly actions” that were “very barbaric and beyond the limit of humanity.”

In Jakarta, the Indonesian Church Association condemned the attacks.

“We are angry,” association official Gormar Gultom said, but urged people to let the police investigation take its course.

Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, also condemned the attacks.

TSAI REACHES OUT

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday offered her sympathies to people affected by the bombings and by a deadly knife attack in central Paris a day earlier.

“My thoughts are with all those affected by the attacks in France and Indonesia today. Taiwan stands with all peace-loving people around the world,” Tsai tweeted.

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