Wife of militant detonates bomb, killing herself and her children in North Sumatra siege

Police stand guard outside the besieged house of Indonesian militant Husain alias Abu Hamzah, in Sibolga, North Sumatra province, on March 12, 2019, after an explosion injured officers.
Police stand guard outside the besieged house of Indonesian militant Husain alias Abu Hamzah, in Sibolga, North Sumatra province, on March 12, 2019, after an explosion injured officers.PHOTO: ANTARA

JAKARTA - The wife of arrested Indonesian militant Husain alias Abu Hamzah detonated a bomb that killed herself and her children early Wednesday morning (March 13) inside a house besieged by police in Sibolga, North Sumatra.

Police chief Tito Karnavian said late on Tuesday three children were inside the house, and police on Wednesday said the children died in the blast.

“A team from the detachment 88 anti terror squad and local community leaders in Sibolga had spent 10 hours persuading her to surrender. We made a strong appeal, stressing minors were involved,” Brig-Gen Dedi said.

The blast occurred at about 1.30am local time.

Police arrested Husain on Tuesday after a raid in Lampung, in southern Sumatra, over the weekend, where a militant identified as initial R alias P was nabbed. He and Husein are believed to be members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group and had planned to launch attacks on police among others.

Not long after the arrest of Husain on Tuesday, bomb explosions from the besieged house injured a police officer.

“In the Lampung raid, we found bombs similar to those we found in Sibolga,” Dedi said, as well as materials used to make bombs.

Tito said two more people were arrested in Sibolga, in addition to Husain.

Indonesia’s police started to launch intensive raids on militant networks starting early last year (2018) ahead of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in Bali in October and the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra in August and September.

Figures from the Indonesian police showed that last year Detachment 88 killed or detained 396 militants, a record number and a sharp jump from the 176 in 2017. Twenty-five suspects were gunned down during raids last year as they resisted arrest, nine more than in 2017.

Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, has long struggled with Islamic militancy.

A gun and suicide bomb attack in Jakarta in January 2016 left four attackers and four civilians dead and was the first assault claimed by ISIS in South-east Asia. Indonesia suffered its worst terrorist attack in 2002 when the bombings of two night clubs in Bali killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

In May last year, a family of six carried out suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya in Indonesia’s East Java province during Sunday mass, killing 13 people, according to the police. 

Two brothers, aged 17 and 15, carried out the first bombing, while the mother who had a belt bomb, carried out the second. She was accompanied by her two daughters, aged nine and 12. This was the first-ever suicide bombing by a woman in Indonesia. 

Their father, who was in a car, staged the third bombing.