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Fifth bomb blast in two days kills Indonesian police officers

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A bomb attack on a police headquarters in Surabaya has killed at least one police officer, authorities said, a day after Islamist militants killed at least 13 people in suicide attacks on churches in the country’s second-largest city, police said, reported Asian Correspondent (Malaysia).

The blast had occurred at 8.50 am (0150 GMT) at their police office, East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told a briefing. The full extent of casualties was unclear, he said.

“There has been an explosion, we don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.

CCTV footage from the scene appears to show a motorcycle driving up to the police station car park, with a man driving and a woman at the back. They then detonate the explosives at a security checkpoint.

Monday’s blast is the fifth such incident in two days in Surabay. At around 9pm local time on Sunday, a bomb exploded at an apartment block in East Java, killing three people.

Residents reportedly said they heard multiple blasts from the fifth floor of the Wonocolo apartment building in Sidoarjo.

Frans Burung Mangera said the explosion killed a father, mother and their child. Two other children, a son and daughter from the same family, were rushed to Siti Khodijah hospital for treatment.

It is currently unknown if there is any link between the Sidoarjo and the church attacks that occured on Sunday morning.

Targetting Christians attending Sunday service, a mother of four walked into the courtyard of church and detonated explosive devices strapped to her nine-year-old and 12-year-old daughters before exploding the bomb strapped around her own waist.

Just minutes earlier, the woman’s husband drove a bomb-laden car into the city’s Pentecostal church and her sons, aged 16 and 18, rode motorcycles on to the grounds of the Santa Maria Church and detonated their explosives there.

The attack killed 13 people, injured 41, and shocked the Muslim-majority nation for its brutality. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo called it “barbaric and beyond the limits of humanity.”

According to News.com.au, the husband was identified as Dita Futrianto and said he was head of the Surabaya cell of Jamaah Anshorut Daulah, an Indonesian militant network affiliated with Islamic State.

In a statement released on its Aamaq news agency, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, although it only mentioned there were three attackers as opposed to the family of six that carried it out.

The terrorist cell has been ramping up its influence in Southeast Asia following a loss of territory in the Middle East and has proven a draw for a number of militant groups who push their message.

In Indonesia specifically, the group stepped up its efforts after the 2016 Jakarta attack. According to the BBC, the group used Indonesians in its videos to threaten governments and police and to urge supporters to carry out further attacks.

The spread of internet mean recruits are indoctrinated through social media or jihadists sites and are easily accessible from all over the world.

Up to 30 Indonesian groups are known to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State with some previously voicing ambitions to establish an official IS province in Southeast Asia.

An estimated 1100 Indonesians have also travelled to Syria to fight alongside Islamic State, experts say. Dita Futrianto, his wife Puji Kuswati, and their four children, were among this number and had recently returned to Indonesia from the war-torn nation.

Widodo has pledged to push through a new anti-terrorism bill to combat networks of Islamist militants in response to Monday and Sunday’s attacks.

“This is the act of cowards, indignified and barbaric,” he said on Metro TV.

Widodo said he would issue a regulation in lieu of a law next month to force through a new anti-terrorism bill if parliament failed to pass it.

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Jakarta has raised its alert status to siaga 1, the highest level, in the wake of suicide bombings that hit three churches and killed at least 10 people in Surabaya, East Java, reported The Jakarta Post (Indonesia).

“Following the bomb attacks in three churches in Surabaya, all areas in the Jakarta Police's jurisdiction have been placed under the highest alert status until further notice,” Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Idham Azis said in a circular distributed to police stations in the capital.

East Java Police have confirmed that at least 10 people have died, while 41 others injured in a string of bomb attacks on three churches in the province's capital.

East Java Police, who have also declared siaga 1 status in their jurisdiction, have called on all churches to cancel services in Surabaya until the situation has been declared safe.

Riau Islands also raised its security alert status on Sunday morning.

Security has been tightened in areas where people are known to gather, especially in churches, Riau Islands Police chief Insp. Gen. Didid Widjanardi

“Riau islands has been placed under the highest alert level.”

Bali, meanwhile, has been under siaga 1 status since Tuesday evening, following a deadly riot involving terrorist inmates at a detention center located at the police’s Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java.

"We have intensified patrols and tightened security at the Bali Police headquarters and all police stations," he said.

Bali Police have urged people across the island to stay calm and vigilant following the terror attack in Surabaya on Sunday.

"Please reduce your activities in public areas for a while and always inform the nearest police if you see suspicious activity," Bali Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Hengky Widjaja said.

He added that security at Bali's main entrances had also been tightened, including at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Gilimanuk Port connecting Bali to Java island, Padangbai Port connecting Bali to Lombok island and other major and traditional seaports across Bali.

"We also tightened security in tourist areas, places of worship and other vital objects, including consulates in Bali," Hengky added.

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