Surabaya church attacks: Indonesian family of bombers 'had been to Syria'

A damaged motorbike is seen at the scene outside a church following a suicide bomb in Surabaya

The family's two teenaged sons then used a motorcycle to carry out their attack, while the mother and her two daughters used backpacks and bags to hide their bombs.

This was Indonesia's second worst terrorist attack, the first having occurred in 2002 in which 202 people were killed by a bomb outside of a nightclub. At least 41 people were injured in the attacks, which Indonesia's president condemned as "barbaric".

The latest bomb explosion occurred at 9:20 p.m. inside a room of a low-priced flat in the town of Sidoarjo, about 34 kilometers away from Surabaya, just behind a local police office.

The first attack at the Santa Maria church claimed four fatalities, one of them being the suspected bomber disguised as one who had come to listen to the sermon.

Investigators believe the parents belong to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, a terrorist group that lends its support to ISIS in Indonesia, the police general said.

"PGI is concerned because this had happened many times and often taken place around the time of Sunday services", said Jeirry Sumampow, a spokesman for the Indonesia's Communion of Churches. "Suddenly she hugged a civilian, then (the bomb) exploded", said Antonius, a security guard who identified himself to the AP using one name. The director of State intelligence agency, Wawan Hadi Purwanto, has stated that this Sunday's attacks are likely to be related to this incident. At the third church, "two other children rode the motorbike and had the bomb across their laps", Mangera said.

At Santa Maria, a Catholic church, shattered glass and chunks of concrete littered the entrance, which was sealed off by armed police. Rescue personnel treated victims at a nearby field while officers inspected wrecked motorcycles in the parking lot that had been burned in the explosion.

A street merchant outside the church said she was blown several meters by the blast. "One was wearing black trousers and one with a backpack", a merchant known only as Samsia told the AP.

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"Police who arrived soon after the explosion shot the father to death because he had threatened to explode a bomb", Mangera told reporters.

Police closed off all three locations during the investigation and President Joko Widodo called the attacks "barbaric" and said he would "uproot the cells entirely".

Jakarta has raised the alert status to the "highest alert status until further notice", Jakarta Police chief Insp.

"There are no words to describe our sorrow for the victims of this act of terrorism", he said, urging Indonesians to unite to fight the scourge of terrorism in the country.

For years, analysts have warned that Indonesia would develop into a militant outpost in Southeast Asia as insurgencies in the Middle East provide battlefield experience harnessed by foreign fighters after they return home.

Christians make up about 10 per cent of Indonesia's population of 260 million, making them the largest religious minority in the country.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit with a string of attacks by Islamist militants since 2000, when 18 people were killed in coordinated attacks on churches on Christmas Eve.

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