Indonesia bombings: 8-year-old among attackers as second family targets cops


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Reuters

Surabaya, 15 May 2018: A family of Islamist militants in Indonesia carried an eight-year-old into a suicide bomb attack against police in Surabaya on Monday, a day after another militant family killed 13 people in suicide attacks on three churches in the same city.

 

The suicide bombers rode two motorbikes up to a checkpoint outside a police station and blew themselves up, police chief Tito Karnavian told a news conference in Indonesia’s second-largest city. He said the child survived the explosion. Four officers and six civilians were wounded in the attack, East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said. "We hope the child will recover. We believe she was thrown 3 metres or so up into the air by the impact of the explosion," said Mangera, adding she had been rushed to hospital.

 

President Joko Widodo branded the attacks in Surabaya the "act of cowards", and pledged to push through a new anti-terrorism bill to combat Islamist militant networks. After some major successes tackling Islamist militancy since 2001, there has been a resurgence in recent years, including in January 2016 when four suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a shopping area in Jakarta. 

 

Police suspected Sunday’s attacks on the churches were carried out by a cell of the Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an umbrella organisation on a US state department terrorist list that is reckoned to have drawn hundreds Indonesian sympathisers of IS. The father of the family involved in those attacks was the head of a JAD cell in the city, Karnavian said.

 

Earlier, police said his family was among 500 IS sympathisers who had returned from Syria, but the police chief said that was incorrect. During the hunt for the cell, police shot dead four suspects and arrested nine, media reported police as saying. The police chief said the JAD cell may have been answering a call from Islamic State in Syria to "cells throughout the world to mobilise".

 

In another incident in Sidoarjo, south of Surabaya, police recovered pipe bombs at an apartment where an explosion killed three members of a family alleged to have been making bombs, Karnavian said. Three children from the family survived and were taken to hospital.

 

In all, 31 people have died since Sunday in attacks, including 13 suspected perpetrators and 14 civilians, police said. Security experts said the attacks represented the first time in Indonesia that children had been used by militants on a suicide mission. "The objective of using afamily for terror acts is so it is not easily detected by the police," said security analyst Stanislaus Riyanta.

 

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