Indonesia’s National Police Chief, Tito Karnavian, announced that this morning’s shocking suicide bomb attacks on three churches in Surabaya, East Java, which took at least 11 lives and injured 42 people, are believed to have all been carried out by the members of a single family.
“The perpetrators are allegedly from one family who carried out the attack,” Tito said at a press conference announcing the initials results of the police’s investigation into the attacks at Surabaya’s Bhayangkara Hospital as quoted by Detik. Also in attendance at the press conference was President Joko Widodo, who flew to the city this afternoon.
The father, allegedly named Dita Sopriyanto, drove a Toyota Avanza car containing explosives. He used the car to transport his wife, allegedly named Puji Kuswanto, and their two daughters, identified as 12-year-old FS and 9-year-old PR.
Dita drove his wife and daughters to the Gereja Kristian Indonesia (GKI) Church on Jalan Diponegoro this morning before driving to the Pantekosta Pusat Surabaya (GPPS) Church on Jalan Arjuno, where he detonated the explosives.
Puji along with her two daughters allegedly tried to make their way into the GKI Church and but were stopped by a security guard shortly before detonating the explosives they were carrying. This matches with several eyewitness accounts of the attacks reported earlier.
Police believe the third attack was carried out by Dita and Puji’s two sons, identified by their initials YF and FH, who used motorcycles to carry explosive to the Santa Maria Church in Ngagel Madya.
Tito also said that all three attacks were suicide bombings. Investigators believe that the family was not only linked to the Surabaya chapter of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, a terrorist network with links to Islamic State (IS), but that they were among 500 Indonesians recently returned from Syria who had gone to the Middle East to fight with IS and that they had spent some time with the terrorist group learning about terrorism tactics and bomb making.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings via its propaganda agency Amaq, calling them “martyrdom attacks”.
The attacks occurred just days after terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a prison riot at the Mobile Brigade Command Center (Markos Brimon) detention center in Depok, West Java, during which convicted terrorists killed five police officers before being subdued. Officials say the main instigators of the riot were members of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, leading to speculation that these bombing are related and perhaps a retaliatory action.