Indonesians woke up on Sunday morning to reports about alleged bombing attacks at three churches in Surabaya, East Java, flooding their social media timelines.
Photos and videos of the aftermath of the bombings, some of them graphic, spread quickly online, while the East Java Police were still gathering information of what had just transpired in the province’s capital, Surabaya, the nation’s largest city after Jakarta.
Below is what we know so far about the bombings.
The number of explosions
Three bombs exploded in at least three churches in Surabaya, East Java, shortly before Sunday services began.
East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Frans Barung Mangera told The Jakarta Post the explosions took place at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church (STMB) on Jl. Ngagel Madya in Gubeng, Pantekosta Pusat Surabaya (GPPS) Church on Jl. Raya Arjuna and Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Diponegoro Church on Jl. Diponegoro.
The first explosion took place at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Church. The second and third explosions followed five minutes apart, the police said.
Two other attempted attacks were also reported at two other churches. They are Santo Jakobus Church at Citraland housing complex in West Surabaya and Gereja Hati Kudus Yesus Church on Jl. Polisi Istimewa.
The bombs failed to explode.
Latest death toll
Frans said during a press briefing on Sunday morning that nine people had died during the attacks: four from the SMTB church and two each from GKI Diponegoro and GPPS Church, while the location where the ninth victim was killed has yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, at least 40 injured victims have been taken to several hospitals in the city, including Soetomo Hospital and Bhayangkara Ngagel Hospital.
While most of the victims were members of the churches’ congregations, the police also found the perpetrator among the deceased at SMTB church. Frans later said that the bombings were suicide attacks.
Who is responsible for the bombings?
No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But former National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Ansyaad Mbai said the bombings in Surabaya could be linked to the riot that occurred at a detention center at the National Police’s Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java.
“The mastermind behind these incidents might be the same,” he said during a phone interview with Kompas TV.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the riot incident at Mako Brimob, which led to the deaths of five members of the police’s elite counterterrorism squad, Densus 88, and a 36-hour standoff.
Female suicide bomber
A witness reported that the alleged suicide bomber at GKI church was a woman who went to the church with two children.
“I heard two explosions, one was in the church’s parking lot and the other was outside the church. The woman was with two little boys,” Johanes, a member of the GKI congregation, told Kompas TV.
The police have yet to confirm Johanes’ statement.
What happened after the explosion?
Police officers have been deployed to the crime scenes to investigate and safeguard the areas, including members of Brimob and the bomb squad. The police earlier said they would focus first on the evacuation of victims.
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has departed for Surabaya to oversee the investigation on the attack, as reported by kompas.com.
The bombings also prompted the Surabaya administration to cancel the Rujak Uleg Festival on Jl. Kembang Jepun, slated to be opened by Mayor Tri Rismaharini at noon, to commemorate the city’s anniversary. A committee member for the festival, Lainin, said the cancellation was necessary as the situation was considered unsafe, as quoted by tempo.co. (ahw)