Indonesian police arrest five people a day after church attack that killed toddler

Police stand near the scene of an explosion outside a church in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia on Nov 13, 2016.
Police stand near the scene of an explosion outside a church in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia on Nov 13, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS/ANTARA FOTO

JAKARTA (AFP, REUTERS) – A Indonesian toddler died Monday (Nov 14) from injuries sustained in a suspected extremist attack on a church, with a group of militants who support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group detained over the assault.

Two-year-old Intan Olivia Marbun was among four small children hurt when an attacker wearing a T-shirt with the word “jihad” on it threw Molotov cocktails at the place of worship on Borneo island from a motorbike on Sunday.

The youngsters, aged between two and four, had been playing in the car park of the church in the city of Samarinda at the time of the attack.

Local police spokesman Fajar Setiawan told AFP Marbun suffered extensive burn injuries and respiratory problems, adding: “Unfortunately the doctors could not save the victim... she died early this morning.”

The other children suffered less serious injuries and were still being treated in hospital but would likely be discharged soon, the spokesman said.

Police arrested the suspected attacker, an Islamist militant previously jailed over a parcel bomb plot in 2011, shortly after the assault.

On Monday they detained five more people as part of their investigation, with national police chief Tito Karnavian describing them as “old players” who also had links to the 2011 plot.

All those detained – including the attacker – were allegedly part of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah group, a local militant outfit that supports ISIS.

“Their aim is to incite violence, I urge people to remain calm,” said Karnavian.

Sunday’s attack was just the latest on a church in recent months. In August, an Indonesian teenager who was obsessed with ISIS stabbed a priest in a church in the city of Medan on Sumatra island and tried to detonate a homemade bomb.

Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, has long struggled with Islamic militancy and suffered a string of extremist attacks in the 2000s, including the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people dead.

A sustained crackdown had weakened the most dangerous networks but ISIS has proved a potent new rallying cry for the country’s radicals.

A suicide bombing and gun attack in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January, claimed by ISIS, killed four attackers and four civilians.

Religious minorities have also increasingly come under attack in recent times as the influence of hardliners has grown, with Christians, Buddhists and Muslim minorities targeted.