2 Indonesian Families in Suicide Bombings Showed No Signs of Terror: Neighbors

Yovinus Guntur
Surabaya, Indonesia
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180517_ID_SuicideBomb_1000.jpg Rudi Setiawan, police chief in Surabaya, Indonesia, holds a picture of Dita Apriyanto and his family who died in suicide bombings at three churches, May 13, 2018.

Friends and neighbors of two Indonesian families who killed themselves in suicide bombings at three churches and a police headquarters said earlier this week they were shocked by the attacks that killed a dozen innocent civilians.

Police tape kept visitors from approaching the Surabaya house that Tri Murtiono and his family leased for two years, beginning in February. Officers stopped and requested identification from anyone, including journalists, approaching the house.

Tri, his wife and two sons died when they rode up to a checkpoint at the Surabaya city police headquarters on two motorcycles and blew themselves up on Monday morning. Their 8-year-old daughter, who was on the front of one of the motorcycles, survived the blast.

A neighbor, Parman, 44, said Tri had an aluminum business, installing doors and window frames.

“All the children went to school in Surabaya. We had never thought they would be involved in the attack,” Parman said.

While not close to their neighbors, the family sometimes joined activities such as night patrols, said Parman, who uses one name.

“On Sunday, when news of the church bombings broke, Tri was working with us at the community mosque,” Parman told BenarNews on Thursday.

“After the church attacks, he told us his wife called,” Parman said, adding that he never saw the family again after Tri received the phone call. The couple and their two children were the only people killed in the bombing that injured four police and six civilians.

A member of the mosque’s staff, Parman said he never noticed anything suspicious about the family, but he did notice that Tri seemed to be careful when carrying boxes.

A crowd gathers as Indonesian police raid a house of suspected terrorists in Surabaya city, capital of East Java province, May 16, 2018. [Yovinus Guntur/BenarNews]
A crowd gathers as Indonesian police raid a house of suspected terrorists in Surabaya city, capital of East Java province, May 16, 2018. [Yovinus Guntur/BenarNews]



Parents supported daughter

Meanwhile, a representative of the parents of Puji Kuswati spoke to BenarNews.

Puji set off suicide bombs with her daughters, aged 9 and 12, prior to one church service on Sunday morning. Her husband, Dita Apriyanto, drove a minivan packed with explosives into another, and their two sons, aged 16 and 18, blew themselves up at a third using scooters loaded with bombs.

The blasts killed a dozen worshipers at the Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church, the Indonesian Christian Church of Surabaya and the Surabaya Central Pentecostal Church.

Puji’s parents, who live in Banyuwangi, 188 miles (300 km) southeast of Surabaya, expressed shock after hearing that she was involved in the suicide bombings, according to Rosiono, who claimed he was speaking for the couple.

Puji’s parents, who own a business selling herbal medicines, helped her buy their house and vehicles, Rosiono said.

“Puji was spoiled by her family,” said Rosiono, who noted that the couple disapproved their daughter’s marriage.

“Her husband seemed to have different beliefs about Islam,” Rosiono told BenarNews.

Earlier, police identified Dita as the leader of an East Java cell of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the Indonesian militant network that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

As of Thursday, the bodies of the two families, along with three members of a third family who were killed Sunday night when their bomb exploded prematurely inside their apartment, had gone unclaimed by relatives. The three families regularly held Quran recital meetings and sometimes watched jihadist videos, according to investigators.

Police said they were searching for two ideological teachers of the families.

Since Sunday, officers have arrested 19 suspects and killed four others during police operations in Surabaya and four other areas, East Java Police Chief Machfud Arifin said. He urged JAD members to surrender and promised Christians they would be safe during worship.

“We are guarding churches and other vulnerable locations,” Machfud said.

Riau arrest

Meanwhile, police have arrested eight suspected terrorists across the region a day after Wednesday’s attack at Riau Police Headquarters, National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian told reporters.

He said the attack, which killed a police officer and four suspects, was linked to last week’s riot at a police detention facility in Bogor, near Jakarta, where five police officers and an inmate also died.


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