News

World's prayers for victims of Indonesian church bombings

Three churches in Surabaya struck by suicide bombers in deadliest terror attack in Indonesia since 2005

A government handout image shows a bomb blast at Surabaya Pantekosta (Pentecostal) Center Church on May 13, 2018 in Surabaya, Indonesia.

PHOTO: Handout

By Chris Shearer

May 15 2018 

Christian leaders from around the world have offered their prayers in support of Indonesia’s Christian community following a series of church bombings in the city of Surabaya on Sunday.

Suicide bomb blasts rocked three churches in the city during morning services, killing at least 14 people and injuring dozens in Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack since 2005.

Indonesian Police say the attacks say were carried out by a single family of six, including two sons aged 18 and 16, and two daughters aged 9 and 12.

Police-General Tito Karnavian said the family belonged to Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian network inspired by ISIS, but police later retracted earlier reports that the family had recently returned from Syria.

Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia and Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, tweeted his condolences, writing: “Horror in Surabaya, bombing of churches in Indonesia's second city needs a grassroots response from all Indonesians to denounce violence. Prayers for the injured and the bereaved.”

President of the National Council of Churches Australia, Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins, told TMA that he was saddened by such “intentional cruelty”.

“[The attackers were] allegedly all members of one family, some so young and now dead, like their innocent victims who were just going to church for grace, company, peace, like us yesterday too.”

Pope Francis, addressing those at St Peter’s Square for his weekly Regina Coeli, said he was praying for the victims and their families.

“Together, 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.”

His comments echoed the sentiments of Jakarta’s Catholic Archbishop, Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, who called on his fellow Indonesians to “strengthen the brotherhood among the children of the nation”.

Asian ecumenical group Christian Conference of Asia condemned the attacks, with its General Secretary Dr Matthews George Chunakara saying it was a deliberate attempt by “forces of evil” to destroy Indonesia’s “long nurtured and cherished values of religious harmony”.

Indonesia, which has the world’s largest population of Muslims, has a long history of interfaith harmony, although Indonesia-watchers warn that conservative, fundamentalist Islamist groups are beginning to overshadow their moderate counterparts. At the same time experts warn there is an increasing threat posed by the estimated 500 Indonesians who have returned in recent times from battlefields in Syria.