Explosions in Indonesia: the parents who take their children to die in suicide attacks

The deadly attacks of recent days in Indonesia had a special feature: two families and their children were the attackers.

Although this was not the first time they used children as suicide bombers, the weird thing is that it was the parents who brought their children to die with them.

The most common is that the children are away from their families, indoctrinated, or drugged, and forced to commit an attack.

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On Sunday, a mother attacked a church in Surabaya, along with their two daughters, while the father and two children, detonated bombs in two other churches. The daughters were 9 and 12 years, and children 16 and 18. Thirteen people were killed in these coordinated attacks.

This Monday, two parents sacrificed themselves in a police station in the same city, also bringing with them their three children, one of whom survived. 10 other people were injured.

This pattern of attack is quite new, it is something that we had not seen before in Indonesia,” he told BBC news Alexander Raymond Arifianto, an expert from the University of Nanyang.

Indonesia, muslim majority country with the highest population in the world, has registered in recent months, a rise of the militant islamist.

Why did the attackers take their children with them?

The advantage for militant groups is that children are much more difficult to detect for the security forces. Generally they raise a lot less suspicion than adults.

“The modus operandi of the security forces is, basically, looking for a man that takes something suspicious,” agrees Arifianto.

“But in the future, and maybe in the next few days, the police and security forces will also have to anticipate that children may be used in such attacks”.

Initially suicide attacks were carried out by men, but groups with the Taliban or the Islamic State (EI) went on to use also to women because it aroused less suspicion.

When that became more common, the next step was to use children.

In the case of Indonesia, however, neither women nor children had participated in attacks previously.

“Are exploiting the weakest point in our security systems,” explains Sulaiman.

“People do not expect that of children, and children alone or parents with children are often not even reviewed properly by the security forces”.

Does something similar happens in other countries?

The suicide attacks committed by children are nothing new, and the tactic is well used by the EI in Syria and Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

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The children are recruited from poor families, refugee camps, or simply forced to join the ranks of such groups.

After they are indoctrinated in fields of special training, such as those that appear in the videos that the EI uses to promote themselves.

The islamist group Boko Haram, which operates mainly in Nigeria, is also known for using children as human bombs.

Last year, the United Nations said that there was a significant increase in the number of children used by Boko Haram as suicide bombers.

Normally the group gets to their attackers under secuestrándolos and drogándolos, or forcing them by threat of harm to their families.

Can it happen again?

The reason why some parents choose to use their own children in explosions and suicide attacks is puzzling to analysts.

“There are really a lot of children that could be recruited as suicide bombers in Indonesia,” says Sulaiman.

“There are many children in fundamentalist schools or boarding schools and to the preachers radicals is fasy envenear a mind so young“.

Although the attacks of the last two days may be different, Sulaiman warns that might not be the last: “Use your own children for an attack is probably an extreme case, but I’d be lying if I say that I would not expect more attacks like these.”


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