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Casualties Reported as Suicide Bombers Attack 3 Churches in Indonesia

Sunday 13 May 2018
Casualties Reported as Suicide Bombers Attack 3 Churches in Indonesia

Debris are seen outside Santa Maria church where an explosion went off in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, May 13, 2018. (Associated Press)

At least 11 people were killed and 40 others injured in Indonesia’s Surabaya city where suicide bombers attacked three churches early Sunday

Alwaght- At least 11 people were killed and 40 others injured in Indonesia’s Surabaya city where suicide bombers attacked three churches early Sunday.

The first attack was at the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church, which killed four people, including a suspected suicide bomber disguised as a churchgoer, police told reporters at the scene. Two police officers were among the wounded, they said.

The attack was followed by a second explosion at the Christian Church of Diponegoro that killed two people.

In a third attack, at Pantekosta Church, two more died, police said.

Inspector general Machfud Arifin told CNN Indonesia that the suicide attacks were carried out using a motorbike at St Mary’s church and a car at another.

Earlier, media reports said a woman with a younger child and a teenager had just entered one church and was being questioned by security when the bomb exploded.

Footage was released on social media showing one church where the yard in front appeared engulfed in fire, with thick, black smoke billowing up.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. However, Wawan Purwanto, communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency said ISIS-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was believed to be behind the bombings, Reuters reported.

The church attacks were likely linked to the prison hostage standoff, Purwanto said.

“The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative (targets) if the main targets are blocked,” he said.

The attacks come days after militant prisoners killed five members of an elite counter-terrorism force during a 36-hour standoff at a high security jail on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta.

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslim, but the country is also home to sizeable communities of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and people who adhere to traditional beliefs.

Indonesia has had some major successes tackling militancy inspired by al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States in 2001. But there has been a resurgence of terrorist activity in recent years, some of it linked to the rise of ISIS terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

The most serious incident was in January 2016 when four suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a shopping area in central Jakarta.

Police ordered the temporary closure of all churches in Surabaya on Sunday, and a large food festival in the city was cancelled.

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