Bomb attacks kill six in Indonesian churches

By Matters India reporter Jakarta: At least six people were killed and 15 others, including children, wounded on May 13 in bomb attacks targeting three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second biggest city, police said. The blasts occurred before Sunday services began in the port city in the island of Java with 2.7 million people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Police ordered the temporary closure of all churches in Surabaya, and canceled a large food festival in the city. The bombings come days after Islamist 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 national capital, Jakarta. East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said the explosions took place at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church on Jl. Ngagel Madya in Gubeng, Pantekosta (Christian) Pusat Surabaya Church on Jl. Raya Arjuna and Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Diponegoro (Christian) Church on Jl. Diponegoro. In the second church, the blast came from a car bomb. It damaged five cars and 30 motorbikes. “There have been three attacks at three churches. The victims are identified,” East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said. The deadly blasts all occurred within 10 minutes of each other, police said, with the first explosion at 7:30 am (6 am India time). Suicide bombers came to the Catholic church gate by motorbike. “I saw the two of them went across the gate, but the bomb was exploded directly as they went and they were wounded badly,” said Samsia, an eye witness. Samsia said one of them carried the backpack and both were wearing black pants. “They carried backpack and wore pants in front of the gate where I have my small stall,” she added. Two people died in the suicide bomb. One of them is the bomber and the other one was a parishioner, 13 were wounded. Among the wounded Victims were children. “Yes, there are two victims died and 15wounded,” confirmed Barung Mangera. Television images showed debris scattered around the entrance of one church and police cordoning off areas as crowds gathered. Authorities were also investigating whether there was an explosion at a fourth church. The first incident took place at the Santa Maria church (Catholic Church) in the Ngagel Madya area. “I heard a huge explosion at about 6.30 am (local time). I finished my shower and went out and saw five ambulances already arrived at the site. The church’s gate was burnt. Several people were down,” a resident who lives near the church told local media. The road outside the church was blocked. Pictures sent by netizens show at least three injured people lying on the ground and a boy covered in blood being carried from the site. Reports were coming in that another church in Surabaya, the GKI Diponegoro Church, was also attacked on Sunday morning. Police told media the attacks were carried out by “suicide bombers” and that at least two people were killed and 13 were wounded in the blasts. Television images showed debris scattered around the entrance of one church and police cordoning off areas as crowds gathered. Authorities were also investigating whether there was an explosion at a fourth church. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and has seen a recent resurgence in homegrown militancy. Indonesia is home to significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists but there are concerns over rising intolerance. Extremists have mounted a series of attacks against Christians and other minorities in recent years. Churches have also been targeted previously, including near-simultaneous attacks on churches there at Christmas in 2000 that killed about 20 people. In January 2016 four suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a shopping area in central Jakarta. In the early 2000s, Indonesia was rocked by terrorist attacks by affiliates of al Qaeda, including a bomb attack in Bali that killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists. The National Police have called on the public not to share graphic pictures and videos of the deadly Surabaya church bombings that occurred on Sunday morning to prevent fear from spreading. “Please stop [sharing] photos over social networks. We should not fall into the trap set by the terrorists who want to spread fear among us,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal said. “Show that we are not afraid,” he asserted. Indonesian police shot and wounded a man who attacked a church congregation in Sleman town with a sword during Sunday Mass in February. The radical Islamist, who had wanted to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria, injured four people. Christians comprise 6.3 percent or about 23 million of Indonesia’s population of 238 million, according to a 2010 census, of which Protestants number 16.5 million and Catholics 6.9 million.

Source: TopStory- Matters India

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