A suicide attack targeted the Catholic church of St. Mary Immaculate. A few minutes later, another explosion occurred at the building of the Christian Church of Indonesia (Gki). The last explosion occurred at the Pentecostal church of Jalan Arjuna. A fourth attack on the cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was thwarted by the police.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – At least eight people were killed and 38 wounded in a series of explosions that took place around 7 am this morning in three different churches in Surabaya, the capital of the East Java province. Wisnu Sakti Buana, deputy mayor of the city, said the police arrested one of the bombers, who was about to attack the fourth target, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
A suicide attack hit the Catholic church of St. Mary Immaculate in the district of Ngagel (photo). The bomb exploded at the entrance of the parish before the 7.30 mass, while faithful were entering the church. In an initial death toll, a parishioner, a policeman and the bomber died; at least 13 people were injured.
A few minutes later, another explosion occurred at the Diponegoro building of the Christian Church of Indonesia (Gki), also in the centre of Surabaya, where two people died. Within a few minutes, another bomb exploded at the Pentecostal church of Jalan Arjuna, causing the death of one person.
At present the government has not issued any official statement, but East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera has told local media that “the identification of victims is underway.” Chief Inspector of the East Java Police, Machfud Arifin, said that according to preliminary investigations the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers who used motorcycles or cars separately. Analysts fear that other churches in the country could be attacked in the coming hours.
In Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country in the world, Christians represent about 10% of the population. Protestants are 17 million, 7 million Catholics (3% of Indonesians). They are often targets of extremists and terrorists’ threats. On Christmas Eve 2000, bomb attacks on 11 churches scattered across the country killing 13 people and wounded 100. On July 22, 2001, in the parish of St. Anna in Duren Sawit (East Jakarta), a bomb caused five dead and injured a dozen.
Today’s attacks follow a revolt in the detention centre at the headquarters of the National Police Mobile Brigade (Mako Brimob) in Kelapa Dua, Depok regency (West Java). During the riots started by a group of prisoners linked to the Islamic State (IS), five police officers and one inmate lost their lives. Yesterday, near that building, security forces arrested two young women, accused of trying to stab a policeman with a pair of scissors.