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Jakarta on highest alert after 3 Indonesian churches hit by suicide bombings

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Jakarta has raised its alert status to the highest level, in the wake of suicide bombings that hit three churches. The blasts killed at least 13, including six suicide bombers, and wounded 43 others, in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday morning.

The first explosion took place at the Santa Maria Catholic church followed by attacks at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church and GKI Diponegoro church minutes later.

Police chief, Tito Karniavan, told reporters it is believed that a family of six, a husband and wife and their four children aged between nine and 18, had carried out the worst attack the country has seen in more than a decade.

At approximately 7.30 am when parishioners were heading into the churches for Sunday services, the blasts occurred within minutes of each other.

The Guardian reported that police identified the mother as Puji Kuswanti and said that she and her two daughters,12 and 9 years old, bombed the GKI Diponegoro church [using waist-bombs]. At the same time, the family’s two teenage sons, 18 and 16, rode motorcycles close to the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic church, where they detonated their [lap-bombs]. Dita, their father, drove a car bomb into the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church. Media reports claim that the explosion at the Pentecostal church was the biggest compared to the other two bombings.

Karniavan said he suspected the family had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria, where hundreds of Indonesians have traveled to join Islamic State, including entire families. Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks through its media agency, Amaq. However, at the time of this publishing, no evidence has been produced to support the claim.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo condemned the attacks as barbaric.

In a circular distributed to police stations in the capital, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis said,

“Following the bomb attacks, all areas in the Jakarta Police’s jurisdiction have been placed under the highest alert status until further notice.”

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