Pope Francis prays for Indonesia after suicide bombers kill 13, injures 41 in Christian church attacks
At least 13 people died while 41 suffered injuries in the bombing that Sunday morning. Authorities said Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah launched the simultaneous attacks in three churches in the eastern port city.
"I'm particularly close to the dear people of Indonesia, especially to the Christian community of the city of Surabaya strongly hit by the grave attacks on places of worship," Pope Francis said. "I elevate my prayer for the victims and their relatives," he added. "Together we invoke the God of peace so that he makes these violent actions cease," the pontiff continued.
Struck and destroyed were the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church, the Christian Church of Diponegoro and Pantekosta Church. Police chief Tito Karnavian revealed that the father led the attack using a car bomb in one of the churches, while his sons, aged 18 and 16, rode their motorcycles in another church.
The mother also participated in the attack alongside their daughters, aged 12 and 9. Witnesses at Diponegoro said they saw a woman carrying two bags who forced her way inside the church when a police tried to block her.
"Suddenly she hugged a civilian then [the bomb] exploded," the witness told reporters.
Another witness said that they saw two men enter the churchyard on their motorbikes and one of them carried a backpack. Authorities said that the unnamed family returned home from Syria, where the ISIS continue to wreak havoc and terror.
Six people died on the scene, while the rest perished while getting treated at nearby hospitals. Meanwhile, police were also able to recover a few more homemade bombs around the church's vicinity, which the bomb squad properly detonated and disposed of.
"This is the act of cowards, indignified and barbaric," Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on national TV after the attacks. He also said he will look into enforcing new anti-terrorism regulations if parliament fails to pass a bill in the next month.
Indonesia has over 30 million Christians, but Muslims dominate the country's population with over 260 million.