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Indonesia suffers deadliest ISIS attack, 11 killed

Sheetal Sukhija - Sunday 13th May, 2018

SURABAYA, Indonesia - In what is being dubbed the deadliest attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group in Indonesia since 2005, a wave of blasts targeted three churches in the country’s second largest city of Surabaya on Sunday.

Inspector General Machfud Arifin said in a statement that the first explosion took place between services at the Santa Maria Catholic Church around 07:30 local time (00:30 GMT), adding that a motorbike was used in the attack.

Photographs taken at the Church after the blast showed several people lying on the ground outside the church gate as police cordoning off the site.

The second bombing reportedly targeted the car park of a Pentecostal church and the local media posted photos from the scene, showing a number of burnt motorcycles.

The third attack was reportedly carried out by a veiled woman who entered the Indonesia Christian Church with two children.

The deputy police chief of Surabaya was quoted as saying in a report in an online news site, the Kumparan News that the women tried to force her way into the church after being stopped by a security guard.

The woman then detonated the bomb in the yard outside the entrance, killing herself and the two children.

Footage broadcast in the local media showed debris scattered around the entrance of the church.

Soon after the attack, Indonesia's intelligence agency, Wawan Purwanto said an ISIS-inspired group, Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), was suspected to be behind the attacks.

In a statement, Ansyaad Mbai, a former leader of Indonesia’s counterterror agency, said he believed that the tight coordination of Sunday’s attacks suggested that they were the work of a single group, which might have sleepers cells in Indonesia.

He said, “This is a series of planned attacks that are aimed at delegitimizing the government,” suggesting that the attacks might have been the work of local extremist groups like the Jamaah Anshar Daulah, which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Meanwhile, officials later revealed that they had managed to foil attacks against other churches.

Later, addressing a press conference, police chief Tito Karnavian said that at least 11 people were killed and more than 41 others injured in the attack that involved members of one family.

Karnavian added that a mother blew herself and two children up at one church, while the father and three sons targeted two others.

Further, Frans Barung Mangera, a police spokesman said the number of casualties could increase as the police were still investigating the blasts.

Mangera added that the bombs had been detonated in different parts of the city within minutes of one another, suggesting the attacks had been coordinated. 

He also stated that the victims included many worshipers who were entering and leaving the churches between services and that two police officers were among the victims.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the scene of one of the bombings and is said to have described the attacks as "barbaric.”

Widodo said that he had ordered the police to "look into and break up networks of perpetrators.”

The bombings were later claimed by the Islamic State group and the local media described it as the deadliest attack in the Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia since 2005.

Previously, in January 2016, the group claimed its first attack in the country, in which four civilians were killed in a series of explosions and shootings in the capital Jakarta.

While ISIS has previously claimed other attacks, the country witnessed its deadliest jihadist attacks in 2002, when over 200 people were killed in two bombings.

The bombings were carried out by al-Qaeda-linked militants outside a bar and nightclub on the resort island of Bali.

After that, in May 2005, bomb blasts killed 22 on the island of Sulawesi and the same year, a suicide bombing struck Bali again, claiming 20 lives.

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