CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Christian leaders call for unity following bombings in Surabaya

JAKARTA (UCAN): Christian leaders called for unity following a spate of suicide bombings that targeted three churches, an apartment building and the police headquarters in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second city, that left dozens dead and many more injured in the deadliest attacks in more than a decade.
 
Father Agustinus Ulahayanan, the executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, denounced the bombings and called on Catholics and other Christians to unite and be vigilant.
 
“We must not be afraid. We must tighten security,” he said.
 
Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, called on people “to stay calm” and “to continue showing solidarity for humanity.” 
 
In the early morning of May 13, a series of suicide attacks were committed by one family—a husband, wife and four children—against Santa Maria Catholic Church, the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church outside the Surabaya Central Pentecost Church. 
 
Then early on May 14, a family of five, including three children, carried out a suicide bombing on the police headquarters in Surabaya, police said.
 
One of the casualties at Santa Maria Church, Aloysius Bayu Rendra Wardhana, was killed trying to prevent the suicide bombers from entering the church compound.
 
Father Alexius Kurdo Irianto, the parish priest, praised Wardhana for his bravery and sacrifice.
 
“If he had not stopped the bombers, there would have been more victims (inside the church),” he said.
 
Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, called the attacks “the act of cowards. Undignified and barbaric.”
 
National Police chief, General Tito Karnavian, said that the Islamic State-inspired Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD), or Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) groups were likely responsible for the attacks.
 
The leaders of both groups are currently in prison. The JAD leader, Aman Abdurrahman, is serving time in the police detention centre in Depok, West Java that saw a deadly riot on May 9 that killed five policemen and one prisoner.
 
“Because their leaders are detained, their groups could be retaliating,” Karnavian said adding that the attacks could also be in retaliation for the arrest of two suspected terrorists and the deaths of four others on May 4 in Bogor, West Java.
 
Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert from Malikussaleh University in Aceh, said the bombings marked a change in tactics by the terrorists as they are deploying women and girls “because people will not suspect them.”

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