Surabaya survivors grieve over loss of loved ones to terror attacks

People hold a vigil for the victims of the suicide bomb attacks in Surabaya and Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok near National monument in Jakarta, on May 15, 2018.
People hold a vigil for the victims of the suicide bomb attacks in Surabaya and Mobile Brigade headquarters in Depok near National monument in Jakarta, on May 15, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Ms Lucia Cicilia Agan has kept her phone by her side in the past few days as she waits for news from a police hospital in Surabaya about her cousin.

Mr Aloysius Bayu Rendra Wardhana, 38, was among those who died in the church bombings in Surabaya on May 13.

"We're still waiting for (results from) the DNA identification process in Jakarta. On Tuesday morning, DNA samples from Bayu's child and father were taken to Jakarta," Ms Agan told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday (May 16).

From the 13 who died in the Surabaya church attacks, Mr Wardhana, the last to be identified, was the only one whose body has not been returned to the family.

He died at the Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church of Surabaya in Gubeng, where he was the leader of the church's youth group. On the day of the bombing, he was responsible for the building's security.

Mr Wardhana had tried to stand in the way of the suicide bombers - the 18-year-old and 16-year-old sons of Dita Oepriarto, the Surabaya head of Jamaah Anshar Daulah - who drove a motorcycle into the church.

"His wife and mother are in a state of deep sadness. They don't have the energy to wait for the DNA identification process (to be completed). So I'm the one who takes care of this at the police station," Ms Agan said.

Mr Wardhana had a three-month-old baby.

The family is now waiting for his body to be returned so that they can hold a funeral for him.

East Java Police's medical unit head, Senior Commissioner Budi Heryadi, said the process was taking a long time because of the state of Mr Wardhana's body.

Sadness also engulfed the family of Vincentius Evan Hudojo, 11, and Nathanael Ethan Hudojo, 8, victims of the same church attack.

Their mother, Ms Wenny Angelina, was injured in the explosion.

At the funeral, she gently sprayed perfume on her sons' bodies and put their favourite things in the coffins, including a toy gun, clothes and hats.

Ms Angelina arrived at the family's home from the hospital, with medical equipment attached to her. She had to return to the hospital quickly after the ceremony to have shrapnel removed from her body.

On Sunday, Ms Angelina and her two sons, who were heading for Mass at the church, had just got out of their car when the motorcycle sped past them and the bomb exploded.

Vincentius Evan, the older brother, died at the scene while Nathanael Ethan died later in the evening at the hospital.

The boys were laid to rest at Keputih Cemetery, where a number of other bombing victims were also buried.

Days after the blast, Surabaya is gradually returning to normality, but a number of banners condemning the attacks and affirming that the city is not afraid of terror have been erected in different corners of the country's second-largest city.

Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini said she understood the city's reaction to the attacks.

"(The banners) are the expression of what Surabayans feel. They are angry," she said.

The provincial capital was shaken by a series of coordinated bombings that struck three churches across the city on Sunday morning, killing 13 civilians, most of whom were Christians attending religious services.

Later in the evening, a bomb believed to have been prepared for a terror plot prematurely exploded at a low-cost apartment in neighbouring Sidoarjo regency, killing three members of a family who allegedly planned the plot.

The next morning, another bombing involving a family of five struck the Surabaya Police headquarters, killing four members of the family. An eight-year-old survived the attack and is undergoing intensive treatment under tight supervision.

An extremist group linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is believed to be behind the attacks.

Counter-terrorism squad Densus 88 has intensified its crackdown on suspected terrorists across the archipelago.