An Indonesian family detonated explosives outside police headquarters in the country’s second-largest city on Monday, a day after members of another family launched coordinated suicide bombings on three city churches that killed at least eight people.
National police chief Tito Karnavian said a girl aged about eight who was with two of the attackers on a motorcycle survived, having been thrown by the blast at Surabaya’s police headquarters. The attack killed the four perpetrators. Six civilians and four officers were wounded.
The attack came just hours after police said the family who carried out the church bombings included girls aged nine and 12.
The flurry of terror attacks have raised concerns that previously beaten down terrorist networks in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation have been reinvigorated by the return of some of the estimated 1,100 Indonesians who went to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria. Experts have warned for several years that when those terrorists return, they could pose a significant threat.
IS claimed responsibility for the church bombings in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency. Karnavian, however, said earlier police comments that the family had spent time in Syria were incorrect.
He said the church bombers and the police headquarters terrorists were friends, as were another family whose homemade bombs exploded in their apartment Sunday night.
The use of children in the attacks has been particularly horrifying to people. Indonesia’s president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo condemned them as “barbaric” and vowed that authorities would root out and “destroy” Islamic terror networks.
Security camera footage of the attack on Surabaya’s police headquarters showed at least one explosion after the four terrorists rode two motorcycles up to a security checkpoint. The motorcycles, which moved closely together, pulled up alongside a car and four officers manning opposite sides of the checkpoint.
Two men, apparently civilians, were walking into the area just meters from the motorcycles at the moment of the explosion, which a split second later was followed by a second possible blast.
Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack occurred in 2002, when bombs exploded on the tourist island of Bali, killing 202 people in one night, mostly foreigners. Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaida affiliated network responsible for the Bali attacks, was obliterated by a sustained crackdown on terrorists by Indonesia’s counterterrorism police with U.S. and Australian support.
Karnavian has said the father of the family who carried out the church bombings was head of the Surabaya cell of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, an Indonesian terror network affiliated with IS that has been implicated in attacks in Indonesia in the past year. All six members of the family were killed.
The IS statement claiming the attacks didn’t mention anything about families or children taking part and said there were only three terrorists. The group also claimed responsibility for a hostage-taking ordeal last week by imprisoned Islamic terrorists at a detention center near Jakarta in which six officers were killed.
Separately on Sunday, three members of another family were killed when homemade bombs exploded at an apartment in Sidoarjo, a town bordering Surabaya, police said.