Mother and young daughters detonate themselves in Indonesia bomb blast

Mother and young daughters detonate themselves in Indonesia bomb blast

The entire family of five were involved in these deadly blasts. Read on...

As parents, we are often scared of the real world and the dangers it poses to our little ones. We can protect our children against some of these. However, others are unpredictable — like the Indonesia bomb blast that happened just yesterday, killing many young children and innocents.

How do we keep our families safe in the case of a terror attack while we are travelling? What are our kids learning about this world when they find out a family caused this devastation, with a mother and her young girls (aged just 9 and 12) strapping explosives to their bodies and detonating themselves? 

Indonesia Bomb Blast: Family Blow Themselves Up, Causing Death and Devastation

On Sunday morning, 13 May 2018, suicide bombers detonated themselves in three churches within Surabaya. The second largest city in Indonesia saw what was possibly the deadliest terror attack since 2005, where several bombs hidden in cars caused 23 fatalities in Bali.

Overall, casualties included at least 11 people who died, including children and a heroic dad who sacrificed himself to save others. Many more suffered injuries.

Tito Kurniavan, one of the police chiefs in Indonesia, said that investigators believed the coordinated attack was carried out by one family. These planned bombings took place just before the holy fasting month of Ramadan began.

indonesia bomb blast

Nathanael (8, left) and Vincencius Evan (11, right) were victims of the Surabaya bomb blast. They lost their lives after struggling from wounds in the hospital. We at theAsianparent give our condolences to the family. | Source: Brigaldo Sinaga’s facebook post


Mum Bombs Church with Young Daughters 

The “normal family” behind the gruesome blitz was a husband, wife, and their four children aged between nine and 18.

Dita Oepriarto, the father, was the head of a local Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAP) cell, a group of people inspired by terror groups.

The family’s teen sons, Yusuf, 18, and Alif, 16, reportedly initiated the Indonesian bomb blast. The two rode motorcycles near the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic church and ignited their explosives. 

According to police reports, five minutes later, Dita dropped the mum, Puji Kuswanti, and her two daughters,  Fadila Sari, 12, and Pamela Rizkita, nine, at the GKI Diponegoro church. Both children and their mum had bombs secured to their bodies. They detonated these soon after arriving.

The mother reportedly had carried two bags and forcefully tried to enter the church, ignoring the guards. “Suddenly, she hugged a civilian and blew up,” recounts Antonius, an eyewitness. 

Afterwards, Oepriarto drove on his own to the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church. There, his bomb-laden car also blasted the area. 

Indonesia Bomb Blast Family Suspected to Have Returned from Syria 

Mr. Karniavan said he suspected the family of six had only returned to Indonesia from Syria recently.

Indonesian intelligence agency officials suspected that the JAD  masterminded these bombings. 

Following the incident, local police temporarily closed all churches in Surabaya on Sunday. An upcoming food festival in the area was cancelled, too.  

People of various religious backgrounds, including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, call Indonesia home. However, there are concerns over rising intolerance, with extremists mounting assaults against Christians and minorities in recent years.

What If My family and I Experience Terror Attacks While on Holiday?

If you happen to be overseas in a country at risk of terrorism, there are things you can do to help.

Terror attacks are unpredictable and can happen in different levels of severity. Always follow the Run, Hide, Tell protocol if you suspect terrorist acts.

The British Red Cross advises to prepare for the attack prior to it happening so that you know how to act before, during and after a possible assault.

Here’s how: 

Prior to an assault happening…

  • Stay alert. Terrorists usually target public areas — keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour, vehicles or packages.
  • Tell the police if you are fearful of or suspect a terror attack. In Singapore, you can contact the National Police force at 999 for emergencies or 1800 255 0000. 
  • Take note of the emergency exits in in buildings and public transport.

If it actually happens…

  • Leave the area via the safest possible route as quickly and calmly as you can. 
  • Stay as low as possible on the floor and exit as fast as you can if a fire is present. Where possible, close your nose and mouth with a wet cloth as you move. Don’t open a door if it is hot to touch.
  • Remain indoors if an explosion occurs outdoors. Avoid windows, lifts and outside doors in case there’s another bomb close by.
  • Inform the police of any explosions or suspicious behaviour that you witnessed.
indonesia bomb blast

In times of emergency, remember that the police are the first ones you should contact for safety and information. | Source: stock photo

What to do after the incident…

  • Administer first aid to those who require help, if it’s safe.  

  • Tell the police if you witnessed anything potentially useful.

  • Contact the police if you are worried about your loved ones’ safety.

  • Consult a doctor. You could be suffering from shock or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder without even realising it. 

We at theAsianparent hope that this article on the recent Indonesia bomb blast can allow parents and children alike to act better in times of emergency and devastation. Our thoughts are with all those in Indonesia. 


References: The Guardian , BBC News, Red Cross UK,, CBC, Red Cross, NPF,, NPCC

Also read: How to talk to your kids about terrorism 

                   35 ways to teach your kids to love humankind in a terrorist-free world 

                    How to talk to your kids about gun shootings



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