Five Suspected Islamic Militants Arrested After Indonesian Church Attack That Killed Toddler

Police stand near the scene of an explosion outside a church in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia November 13, 2016.Reuters

Indonesian police today arrested five people in connection with a suspected militant attack on a church on Sunday that killed one infant and injured three others.

Police said they were investigating possible links to ISIS. The attack in the car park of a church in Samarinda, in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province, was the latest in a series that has raised concerns over rising militancy in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. An ISIS-linked assault in the capital Jakarta in January killed four people.

Police said the attacker had been imprisoned on terrorism charges in the past and had links to existing radical networks.

Children were playing in the front yard of the Oikumene Church when the suspect, Juhanda, or Jo bin Muhammad Aceng, threw the bomb, Kompas daily reported.

Intan Marbun, reportedly two or three years old, suffered severe burns and died in the early hours of Monday morning. The other three children are between two and three years old, Time reported.

The suspect is said to have worn a black T-shirt that read "Jihad Way of Life" during the attack on Sunday. He was previously sentenced in 2012 to three years and six months in prison for his involvement in the "book-bomb" plot in Jakarta a year before. One of the targets was a liberal cultural centre named Teater Utan Kayu. He received remission of sentence and was released in July 2014.

Juhanda was arrested again in September 2014 after he was found with an ISIS flag in Parepare, Sulawesi. At the time, he was allegedly trying to find and kill his wife.

"This case has opened our eyes that [the counter-terrorism agency] BNPT needs to improve its de-radicalization programme," legislator Eva Sundari said in a statement on Sunday. President Joko Widodo added that "the bomb case in Samarinda has to be investigated thoroughly."

In late August, a suicide bomber tried to attack a crowded Catholic church in the Sumatran city of Medan, but the would-be bomber's vest failed to detonate. A drawing resembling an ISIS flag was reportedly found at the scene.

Additional reporting by Reuters.