Suicide bombers from the same family targeted early morning services at three churches of different denominations in Surabaya, on the island of Java, on Sunday 13 May, killing 13 and leaving more than 40 people injured.
Around 7:30 a.m. two young men on motorcycles, aged 16 and 18, bombed the first church. Around five minutes later, their father exploded a car bomb in the grounds of the second church and their mother blew up herself, along with her nine and twelve-year-old daughters, at a third.
Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attacks. Java police subsequently stated that the family had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria.
The church bombings were the deadliest since Christmas Eve 2000, when 19 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a wave of coordinated attacks on church services in Jakarta, Bekasi, Medan, Sukabumi, Mojokerto, Bandung, and on Batam Island and Lomok.
The attack has been condemned by Cairo’s historic al-Azhar University, the world’s leading Sunni academic institution. Al-Azhar released a statement denouncing “in the strongest terms” attacks on innocent civilians and expressing confidence in Indonesia being able to defeat terrorism “through tolerance peace and equality”.
The vast archipelago of Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, although Christians comprise at least 15%. Historically, Christians and Muslims lived together peacefully as equals, but since the 1980s, the role of Islam in public life has increased, as has violence against Christians.