The suicide bombers in the church attacks in Surabaya on Sunday are believed to be members same family affiliated with Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD), an extremist group, the National Police Chief said.
A series of blasts struck three churches across the provincial capital of Surabaya at around 7.00 a.m., leaving at least 13 dead and over 40 others wounded.
“We have identified the bombers. It is highly likely that they shared a familial background,” National Police Chief, Gen. Tito Karnavian, said at a press conference broadcast live from Surabaya.
According to Karnavian, the father in the family was the bomber at the Surabaya Pentecostal Church (GPPS) on Jl. Raya Arjuna, while two male teenagers of the family carried out another suicide bombing on a motorcycle at Saint Mary Immaculate (SMTB) Catholic Church of Surabaya located on Jl. Ngagel Madya in Gubeng.
The mother of the family and her two young girls allegedly carried out the mission at the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church (GKI).
The Police chief said the family was among IS-affiliated Indonesians deported by the Turkish Government last year.
“Before proceeding to the GPPS, the father allegedly dropped off his wife and two daughters, aged 9 and 12,” he said.
According to preliminary investigations, the father allegedly carried the largest explosive and strapped several smaller explosives to his waist.
The IS group has claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks via its propaganda agency Amaq.
“Three martyrdom attacks killed 11 and wounded at least 41 among church guards and Christians,” the group said via the Telegram messaging app.
Eyewitness account at the bombing scenes revealed that images showed a vehicle engulfed in flames and plumes of thick black smoke as a body lay outside the gate of Santa Maria Catholic church, with motorcycles toppled over amid the mangled debris.
In addition to the suicide blast, Police experts defused two unexploded bombs at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church.
Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesia’s 260 million people are Muslim, but there are significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.
Police shot and wounded an IS-inspired radical, who attacked a church congregation outside Indonesia’s cultural capital Yogyakarta with a sword during a Sunday mass in February. Four people were injured.