Indonesia remembers victims of bombings

Several hundred people gathered at the Santa Maria church on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2019

Indonesia remembers victims of bombings

  • Daesh claimed the Surabaya bombings and the families were linked to local extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD)

SURABAYA: An Indonesian church on Monday remembered the victims of suicide bombings carried out by a Daesh-inspired family, one year on from the attacks that highlighted the extremist group’s global reach.

On May 13 last year, a family of six — including two girls aged nine and 12 — blew themselves up at the Santa Maria Catholic Church and two other churches in Surabaya during Sunday morning services, killing over a dozen congregants and wounding scores more.

Several hundred people gathered at the Santa Maria church on Monday for a memorial prayer session and to hear survivor accounts of the bloodshed.

“I have learned to move on and not be traumatized by the attacks because that’s what they (terrorists) want,” said Desmonda, a Christian woman who survived last year’s bombings.

Daesh claimed the Surabaya bombings and the families were linked to local extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports Daesh.

Ines Andi, a hijab-wearing Muslim, also attended Monday’s one-year anniversary, which comes weeks after Daesh claimed similar suicide attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250.

“As a Surabayan who was born and raised here, I was shocked to hear about the bombings — more so because the perpetrators were Muslim,” the 27-year-old said.

“So I want to show my solidarity with the victims and hope that this will never happen again. People envy Indonesia for its diversity so we should preserve it,” she added.

It has been a long road to recovery for many Christians who make up about 10 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million citizens.

The coordinated Surabaya attacks were the deadliest in years for a country that has struggled with militancy since the 2002 Bali bombings killed over 200 people, including scores of tourists

“It’s hard to overcome the trauma even though it has been a year,” Rachmat Harjono Tengadi said after a service on Sunday at the Indonesian Christian Church.

The 56-year-old was struck by shrapnel after a mother and her two young daughters, dressed in body covering burqa veils, blew themselves up outside the church.

“Even now if I see somebody wearing a black burqa, my heart feels sick,” Tengadi said.

Tengadi’s church opted not to hold a special memorial on Monday’s anniversary over fears it could be painful for congregants.

“We thought it wasn’t a good memory so we’d better not hold any commemoration at all,” said church official Daniel Theophilus Hage.


Taliban talks resume amid hopes of deal

Updated 22 August 2019

Taliban talks resume amid hopes of deal

  • The disclosure came in a context of ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan after NATO said two US military personnel were killed Wednesday
  • Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 — ahead of Afghan polls due the same month

DOHA: The US and the Taliban met in Doha on Thursday, an American source close to the talks said, for potentially decisive dialogue to allow Washington to drawdown militarily in Afghanistan.
The source said the talks started around 1300 GMT — the ninth time the two foes have met face-to-face.
The disclosure came in a context of ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan after NATO said two US military personnel were killed Wednesday, blasts rocked Jalalabad Monday, and the death toll from a weekend wedding bombing reached 80.
Washington’s top commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller was at the talks venue, according to an AFP correspondent.
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 — ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and US presidential polls due in 2020.
Taliban lead negotiator Abbas Stanikzai told AFP Thursday that overall talks had been “going well.”
The talks are expected to focus on establishing a timeline for the US withdrawal of its more than 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.
“We’ve been there for 18 years, it’s ridiculous,” US President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday.
“We are negotiating with the government and we are negotiating with the Taliban,” he said.
“We have good talks going and we will see what happens.”
But the thorny issues of power-sharing with the Taliban, the role of regional powers including Pakistan and India, and the fate of Afghanistan’s incumbent administration remain unresolved.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad sought to bolster optimism for a peace agreement last week when he said in a tweet that he hoped this is the final year that the country is at war.