By BosNewsLife Asia Service
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BosNewsLife)– The Islamic State group claims its fighters have bombed three churches in the capital of Indonesia’s East Java province during services on Sunday, May 13, killing at least 13 people and injuring dozens more.
Suicide bombers who carried out the deadly church attacks in Surabaya on the Catholic Santa Maria Church, the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church and the GKI Diponegoro Church, were a family of six that included two young children, police said.
At least seven people plus the six bombers died in the attacks in Surabaya, according to police. Some 41 people suffered injuries in the attacks, which Indonesia’s president condemned as “barbaric.”
”The Christian community is scared, ” a local Christian told BosNewsLife. “There have been three attacks at three churches,” East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera confirmed to reporters.
The deadly blasts all occurred within 10 minutes of each other early Sunday local time, according to police officials.
Among the injured were two police officers and civilians, Mangera said.
The latest violence underscores concerns about rising intolerance in Indonesia, where Christians are in the minority along with Hindus and Buddhists.
Speaking in Vatican City, Pope Francis assured the “dear people of Indonesia,” and especially Christians in the city of Surabaya, that he was “particularly close” to them following the deadly attacks earlier on Sunday, May 13.
It’s the deadliest attack against Christians in Indonesia since 2005, church observers said. In his remarks in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said he is praying for the victims and their loved ones.
GOD OF PEACE
“Together,” he told pilgrims, “let us call upon the God of peace, that He might bring these violent actions to an end; and that in the hearts of all, space might be found for feelings, not of hatred and violence, but of reconciliation and fraternity.”
The World Evangelical Alliance, which represents millions of evangelical believers worldwide, shared those concerns. “We strongly condemn this mindless attack on Christians in Surabaya,” said Godfrey Yogarajah, the Deputy Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
“We stand in solidarity with Christians in Indonesia during this difficult time and call on the global Church to pray for all those affected in the attacks,” he told BosNewsLife in a statement. The WEA urged believers to “pray for God’s comfort upon those grieving the loss of loved ones” and for “God’s healing upon those injured in the attacks”.
Also, “Pray that the Indonesian government would carry out a thorough investigation into the incident and take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of Christians in the country,” WEA said. Indonesian churches urged the government to improve security. Militants have carried out a series of attacks against Christians and other minorities in recent years.
Reports said Indonesian police shot and wounded a man who attacked a church congregation in Sleman town with a sword during Sunday Mass in February. The radical Islamist, who had wanted to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria, reportedly injured four people.
(With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos at BosNewsLife News Center and Christopher Wells in Vatican City).