Suicide bombers attack Indonesian churches, killing at least 13 and wounding 40

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, talks with Armed Forces Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto, center right, and top security minister Wiranto during his visit to one of the church attacks in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, May 13, 2018. Suicide bombers targeted Sunday Mass congregations in three churches in the country’s second-largest city, killing at least a number of people and wounding dozens in one of the worst attacks on the country’s Christian minority, police said. (AP Photo)

Suicide bombers carried out attacks on three churches Sunday in Indonesia’s second biggest city Surabaya, claiming at least 13 lives and wounding 40, according to officials.

ISIL claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attacks through the group’s Amaq news agency without providing any evidence.

Police said the family who carried out Sunday’s attacks were among 500 ISIL sympathizers who had returned from Syria.

“This act is barbaric and beyond the limits of humanity, causing victims among members of society, the police and even innocent children,” Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said during a visit to the scene of the attacks.

Reuters reported that a family of six launched the attacks.

“The husband drove the car, an Avanza, that contained explosives and rammed it into the gate in front of that church,” East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters at the regional police headquarters in Surabaya.

The wife and two daughters were involved in an attack on a second church and at the third church, “two other children rode the motorbike and had the bomb across their laps,” Mangera said.

The two daughters were aged 12 and 9 while the other two, thought to be the man’s sons, were 18 and 16, police said.

The attacks, the country’s deadliest since 2005, started at around 7:30 a.m. local time when three churches were hit apparently coordinately.

The first attack at the Santa Maria church claimed four fatalities, one of them being the suspected bomber disguised as one who had come to listen to the sermon.

The other two explosions targeted the Christian Church of Diponegoro and the Pentecost Central Church.

The three deadly blasts, seemingly coordinated, occurred within 10 minutes of each other, police said.

At least 41 injured people were taken for medical treatment, including two police officers, said East Java police spokesman Mangera.

The radical group is also likely to be linked to a deadly prison hostage incident at a jail near Jakarta involving Islamist militants last week.

As the holy fasting month of Ramadan approaches this week, Indonesia has been on high alert after a string of recent plots and attacks by militants inspired by ISIL.

Story by CGTN with additional information from Reuters.