SURABAYA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The perpetrators of bomb attacks in Surabaya, East Java, were reportedly members of the same terrorist cell and attended the same religious gatherings in the city, East Java Police said on Tuesday (May 15).
Police chief Insp. Gen. Machfud Arifin said the three families involved in the suicide bombings attended the same religious gathering every Sunday. The perpetrators reportedly took their children to the weekly gatherings where they were taught radical ideologies, he went on.
"The gatherings were held every Sunday following noon prayers. Movies about (violent) jihad were shown during the events," Machfud said in a press conference in Surabaya.
Machfud further said that in each gathering, participants were lectured about violent jihad and given guidance on how to make bombs. The gatherings were led by radical preachers whom the police were pursuing.
Police said the preachers had fled Surabaya but officers had mapped out their locations.
Bombs went off in five different locations in Surabaya on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, massive explosions occurred at three different churches, claiming 18 lives, including six of the suicide bombers. Police later found out that the perpetrators were a family of six, comprising Dita Oeprianto, his wife, and their two sons and two daughters.
Hours after the church bombings, another bomb prematurely went off at a low-cost apartment in Wonocolo, Sidoarjo, killing a family of three, comprising a man, his wife and one of their children. Three other children survived and are being treated at Bhayangkara Ngagel Hospital.
On Monday, another suicide bombing took place at Surabaya Police headquarters, claiming four lives - all are perpetrators - and wounding 10 people."The motivation is they want to go to heaven together. They took their family members with them because they want to go to heaven together," Machfud said.
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian previously said the perpetrators of the Surabaya attacks were supporters of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the local affiliation of the Islamic State group.
JAD is led by Aman Abdurrahman, who is being detained at the National Police's Brigade Mobile headquarters detention center in Depok, West Java. Aman is standing trial for his alleged involvement in a terrorist attack in Central Jakarta in January 2016.