Deadly church bombings rock Indonesia

Damages following a suicide bomb outside a church in Surabaya, a wave of blasts including a suicide bombing struck outside churches in Indonesia, killing at least six and wounding dozens of others. Photo: JUNI KRISWANTO / AFP

SURABAYA, Indonesia – A wave of blasts including a suicide bombing struck outside churches in Indonesia on Sunday, killing at least nine and wounding dozens of others, police said, the latest assault on a religious minority in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

Indonesia, which will begin the holy fasting month Ramadan this week, has been on high alert over attacks by militants, including some incidents claimed by the Islamic State group.

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No one has yet claimed responsibility for the Sunday bombings in Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya.

"Nine people are dead and 40 are in hospital," East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters, adding that two police officers were among the injured.

The official death toll climbed from an initial two killed and may include those who succumbed to injuries in hospital. Three separate locations were hit by the bombings around 7:30 am (0030 GMT).

Images from one scene showed a body lying outside the gate of Santa Maria Catholic church and members of Indonesia's bomb squad poring over the rubble.

At least one of the attackers was killed when they detonated their bomb at Santa Maria. It was not clear if any other perpetrators were among those killed or injured.

"I was frightened... many people were screaming," 23-year-old witness Roman told AFP after the blast at Santa Maria church.

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The attacks come several days after five Indonesian police officers and an inmate were killed in clashes at a high-security jail on the outskirts of Jakarta. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for that incident although police rejected its involvement.

The Southeast Asian nation's 260 million people include significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists but there are concerns over rising intolerance and militancy. Indonesian police shot and wounded a man who attacked a church congregation in the town of Sleman with a sword during a Sunday mass in February.

The radical Islamist, who had wanted to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria, injured four people.

AFP

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