Two young men, aged 16 and 18, rode motorcycles into the Santa Maria Catholic Church at around 7:30 a.m. and detonated explosives. Around five minutes later, their father exploded a car bomb in the grounds of the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church and their mother blew up herself, along with her nine and twelve-year old daughters, at the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church.
Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attacks. Java police subsequently stated that the family had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria.
The church bombings were the deadliest since Christmas Eve, 2000, when 19 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a wave of coordinated attacks on church services in Jakarta, Bekasi, Medan, Sukabumi, Mojokerto, Bandung, and on Batam Island and Lomok.
The vast archipelago of Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, although Christians comprise at least 15%. Historically, Christians and Muslims lived together peacefully as equals, but since the 1980s, the role of Islam in public life has increased, as has violence against Christians.