Suicide bombings kill 7 attending church services in Indonesia

May 13 (UPI) — A family of suicide bombers attacked Christian churches in Muslim-majority Indonesia, killing seven worshipers and security personnel and injuring dozens more.

All six family members died in the bombings, including two children ages 9 and 12, police said.

The Islamic State, through its media outlet, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Surabaya, a port city on the east coast of Java Island. The Amaq News Agency described them as “martyrdom attacks” but did not provide any proof to substantiate the claim.

National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said the attacks came from one family that had spent time in Syria in support of the Islamic State.

Hospitalized with injuries were 41 people — including two police officers, police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said in a CNN report.

The attacks came as parishioners were heading into the churches for services.

The first attack was at 7:30 a.m. at the Santa Maria Catholic Church. Police said two sons, 18 and 16, detonated a bomb after driving a motorcycle onto the grounds.

Around the same time, the family’s mother and two daughters, ages 9 and 12, detonated one or more bombs — believed wrapped around their waists — at the entrance to GKI Diponegoro

Minutes later, police believe the father detonated a bomb at the Pentecost Central Church.

Police closed off all three locations during the investigation and President Joko Widodo called the attacks “barbaric” and said he would “uproot the cells entirely.”

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi posted her condolences to the bombing victims on Twitter.

Jakarta has raised the alert status to the “highest alert status until further notice,” Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis said in a circular distributed to police stations in the capital.

East Java Police, which also declared 1 alert status in its jurisdiction, called on all churches to cancel services in Surabaya until the situation has been declared safe.

Riau Islands also raised security alert status.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta condemned the attacks.

“These attacks on peaceful worshipers are an affront to the tolerance and diversity embraced by Indonesians. The United States stands with the people of Indonesia, and we offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” the statement read.

In a nation of around 260,500,000 people, around 10 percent of the population is Christian.

Last week, five counterterrorism police officer and one inmate died in a riot in a high-security prison outside Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Suspected Islamic State inmates took officers hostage and controlled three prison blocks for 40 hours.

The prison incident was probably linked to the church bombings, said Wawan Purwanto, the communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency.

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