05/14/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 13, bombings at three churches in Surabaya, East Java, killed 13 and wounded more than 40 shortly before Sunday services.
The explosions took place at Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church (STMB), Surabaya Pentecostal Church (GPPS), and the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church (GKI). According to East Java Police, the first explosion took place at STMB. The second and third explosions followed five minutes apart.
Jakarta Post noted that attempted attacks were also reported at two other churches – Saint Jacob’s Church in West Surabaya and Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral. However, the bombs failed to explode.
A family of six – a father, mother, two sons, and two daughters – belonging to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a group linked to the Islamic State, is behind the suicide bombings. They recently returned from war-torn Syria, where they lived in an area controlled by the Islamic State.
National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian confirmed that the father of the family initially brought his wife and two daughters – 12-years-old and 9-years-old – to GKI before making his way to Surabaya Pentecostal Church.
The bomb blast at STMB was carried out by the two brothers – 18-years-old and 16-years-old – who carried a lap-bomb with them on their motorcycle.
The bomb attacks are the deadliest in Indonesia since the 2002 Bali bombings, which left more than 200 people dead and hundreds more injured.
Pastor Yonathan Biantoro, one of the pastors of Surabaya Pentecostal Church, told ICC,“Honestly I am really sad about this. We as members of this church really hope that we would have a peaceful environment when we are in our devotion. We want the government to protect us with our constitutional rights and we are concerned about our religious freedom. I believe there is not a religion that would allow its followers to kill each other. We will however not be intimidated by the bombing. We still love them and forgive. We hope they will not do this ever again.”
Three of his church staff members passed away on Monday due to severe burns.
“They try to create fear in us, instead we grow, trust, and hope in Him. God is still in control, our churches united in prayers and believe God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The gate of hell and its power cannot conquer His church,” Budi Setiawan, National Superintendent of Assembly of God Indonesia, shared with ICC.
The executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, called for the government to take swift action and to bring whoever was responsible to justice.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The terrorist attacks at the three churches in Indonesia are pure evil. ICC strongly condemns the reprehensible acts of violence against innocent lives. The use of minors as suicide bombers is sickening and shows the absolute disregard for humanity in radical ideology. Our hearts break for the victims, knowing the horror they have experienced at their houses of worship, and we urgently ask for your prayers for Indonesia.”