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11 dead, 41 hurt as suicide bombers hit Indonesian churches

AP  |  Surabaya 

Suicide bombers on motorcycles and including a woman with children targeted today Mass congregations in three churches in Indonesia's second largest city, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens in one of the worst attacks on the Christian minority, police said.

The first attack struck the Santa Maria in Surabaya, killing four people, including one or more bombers, police told reporters at the scene. He said two police officers were among a total of 41 wounded.

The blast was followed by a second explosion minutes later at the of Diponegoro and a third at the city's Pantekosta Church, Mangera said.

arrived in Surabaya, the provincial capital, in the aftermath of the attacks, Mangera said. The bombings were the worst since a series of attacks on churches on in 2000 killed 15 people and wounded nearly 100. Religious minorities, especially Christians, have been repeatedly targeted by militants.

A senior police said the bombings were carried out by at least five suicide bombers, including a veiled woman who had two children with her. The spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

A witness described the woman with children, saying she was carrying two bags at the Diponegoro church.

"At first officers blocked them in front of the churchyard but the woman ignored and forced her way inside. Suddenly she hugged a civilian then (the bomb) exploded," said a named Antonius.

Shattered glass and chunks of concrete littered the entrance of the Santa Maria Church, which was sealed off by heavily armed police. Rescue personnel treated victims on a nearby field while officers inspected wrecked motorcycles in the parking lot that were burned in the explosion.

A street merchant outside the church said she was blown away several meters (yards) by the powerful blast.

"I saw two men riding a motorbike forced their way into the churchyard. One was wearing black pants and one with a backpack," said Samsia, who uses a single name. "Soon after that the explosion happened." In Jakarta, the strongly condemned the attacks and called on people to wait on authorities to investigate.

"We are angry with these attacks, but we leave it to the authorities to resolve them," said Gormar Gultom, an with the association.

announced that police fatally shot four suspected militants and arrested two others early Sunday in towns. It wasn't clear if the shootings were connected with the church attacks.

"They have trained in order to attack police," Wasisto said, identifying the militants as members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, or JAD. The network of about two dozen extremist groups has been implicated in a number of attacks in over the past year. It pledges allegiance to Islamic State

The latest attacks in predominantly Muslim came days after police ended a riot and hostage-taking at a detention center near that left six officers and three inmates dead. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

has carried out a sustained crackdown on militants since bombings by al-Qaida-affiliated radicals in in 2002 killed 202 people. In recent years, the country has faced a new threat as the rise of the Islamic State group in the invigorated

Christians, many of whom from the ethnic Chinese minority, make up about 9 per cent of Indonesia's 260 million people.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 13 2018. 13:41 IST