As the Christian minority in Indonesia celebrated Sunday services a week before Pentecost, Islamic terrorists attacked three churches with bombs, killing at least 13 and wounding scores in the worst such onslaught in 18 years.
In a coordinated attack, the bombers, including two veiled women with a young girl, drove up to the churches Surabaya, Indonesia’s second biggest city, on motorcycles.
Witnesses said the two women entered the area surrounding the church. According to a security officer at the church, he was walking behind and trying to stop them, however the two women split up before detonating their explosives. The young child reportedly survived, but suffered injuries.
Indonesia boasts the largest Muslim population of any country in the world.
The first attack struck the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church killed four people, including one or more bombers, said police. Two police officers were among a total of 41 wounded.
That blast was followed by a second explosion minutes later at the Christian Church of Diponegoro and a third at the city’s Pantekosta Church.
Two other attempted attacks were also reported at two other churches. They are Saint Jacob’s Church at Citraland housing complex in West Surabaya and Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral on Jl. Polisi Istimewa.
The bombs failed to explode.
The church attacks came days after police ended a riot and hostage-taking at a detention center near Jakarta that left six officers and three inmates dead. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that incident.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo flew into the city to assess the latest conditions of the ground zero, as well as visit the bomb attack victims in hospitals.
Indonesia has carried out a sustained crackdown on militants since bombings by al-Qaida-affiliated radicals in Bali in 2002 killed 202 people. In recent years, the country has faced a new threat as the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East invigorated local militant networks.
Christians, many of whom are from the ethnic Chinese minority, make up about 9 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million people.