ISIS-INSPIRED MUSLIM suicide bombers launched coordinated attacks on three Indonesian churches during worship services this morning, leaving more than a dozen people dead and at least 40 more injured in a series of bloody blasts that horrified the country’s Christian minority.
Christianity Today Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church (GKI), Surabaya Center Pentecostal Church, and Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church—all in Surabaya, the second-largest city in the island-chain nation—suffered bombings carried out by six members of the same family, who are believed to be affiliated with Jamaah Ansharut Daulah(JAD), an Indonesian terrorist cell aligned with ISIS.
Sunday’s bombings mark the deadliest terrorist attack in the world’s biggest Muslim country since the Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people in 2002.
The current death toll includes at least seven worshipers, plus the six family members who conducted the terror plot. Indonesian police told the Associated Press that within minutes, the father exploded a car bomb into one church building; two teenage sons on motorcycles drove into another; and the mother with two daughters, aged 12 and 9, wore explosives at the third, setting them off as she hugged a churchgoer.
According to initial reports by Asia News, after the explosions at the Catholic and two Protestant churches, police were able to thwart a fourth attack at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Though Indonesia is (mistakenly) cheered for its pluralism—with a Christian community of about 17 million Protestants and 3 million Catholics (9% of the population) living alongside the biggest Muslim population in the world—the rise of radical Islam in several areas and sectors of society has made the situation for believers much worse.
The church bombings follow fatal attacks on Jakarta police in recent days, as well as a bombing in a nearby district, the AP reported.
Two years ago, a terrorist threw a Molotov cocktail at a church in Borneo, killing a toddler and wounding three others, according to Open Doors International, which rates the country’s persecution level as “high.”
Prior to the 2002 attack on various tourist sites in Bali, terrorists bombed a Catholic church in East Jakarta in 2001 and Christmas Eve services at 11 churches nationwide in 2000.