Surabaya - Indonesia: Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks from 13 to 16 May 2018

April 19, 2018

Indonesia was subjected to a series of terrorist attacks that occurred from 13 May 2018 to the start of the Ramadan period on 17 May 2018. The attacks targeted three churches in Surabaya on 13 May 2018 (Sunday); the Surabaya police HQ on 14 May 2018 (Monday), and the Riau Province Police HQ on 16 May 2018 (Wednesday). The attackers included whole family units – involving even women and young children as suicide bombers. At least 13 civilians and police officers, along with 17 perpetrators were killed, including two girls aged nine and 12.


The 13-14 May attacks were believed to have been in response to an IS directive to avenge the imprisonment of former leaders of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a pro-IS militant group. The attacks were preceded by the hijack of the Mako Brimob detention facility on 8 May 2018 by over 150 pro-IS inmates. Five police officers and one inmate were killed in the resulting siege.


The use of children as suicide bombers under the guidance of their parents presents a new form of terrorist attack in Indonesia. The attacks can be viewed as part of an unfolding campaign by extremist groups, especially given the recent events and the start of the holy month of Ramadan. 12 countries have issued travel advisories on Indonesia in the aftermath of the 13 - 16 May terror incidents. While some of these advisories reminded travellers of the heightened security threat within the country, none of them have advised against travelling there explicitly.

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