Jakarta. In the aftermath of the horrific attacks in East Java in recent days, which claimed 25 lives and wounded more than 40 others, people across the archipelago have overwhelmingly responded in defiance against terrorism and have expressed solidarity with the victims and heroes of the attacks.
On Sunday (13/05) evening, hundreds of residents gathered for a vigil at Tugu Pahlawan in Surabaya, East Java, to pay respects to the victims of the attacks that took place earlier that day.
"Residents of Surabaya will fight against terrorist groups … This is our city’s character, without courage you are not a resident of Surabaya," chairman of Surabaya’s branch of the Ansor Youth Movement, Faridz Afif, said during the vigil, as quoted by Antara.
A group of college students belonging to the Indonesian Christian Youth Movement (Gamki) also held a similar vigil in Central Jakarta on Sunday evening, where they called for unity in the country and to support the fight against terrorism.
In Manado, North Sulawesi, hundreds of people gathered at the local Sentrum church to pay respects to the victims of Sunday's attacks. They also expressed deep sorrow and condemned the act, while demanding that the National Police capture any remaining assailants responsible for the carnage.
Hundreds of residents also gathered at Tugu Malioboro in Yogyakarta as an act of solidarity through joint prayers and speeches about peace. Representatives from several religions joined the act to express unity, including those who practice Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism and Catholicism.
Social activist Alissa Wahid founder of Gusdurian Network Indonesia — set up a donation page on local crowdfunding service Kitabisa.com to pool funds for helping the bombings victims and their families.
"I invite all of us to show sympathy and support to the families of the victims. Our help can not end the grief but this is the evidence of unity and affection among people," Alissa wrote on the crowdfunding page.
The heroic act of Aloysius Bayu Rendra Wardhana, who stopped motorcycle-riding attackers from entering the Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church and sacrificed his own life in the process, has been widely praised.
He saved the lives of 500 members of the church’s congregation, who were attending morning Mass during time of attack.
Within the church's community, Bayu served as a choir conductor and as a member of the church’s security personnel.
"We are very thankful to Bayu, but we are also grieving for his death," said Suhadi, a member of the church.
A series of suicide bombings, which targeted three churches on Sunday and the city’s police headquarters on Monday, shook the city of Surabaya, Indonesia’s second most populous city. Another bomb exploded on Sunday evening in Sidoarjo, East Java, which killed three suspected terrorists.
The attacks killed 25 people, 13 of whom were the suicide bombers, and injured dozens more.
The bombings were carried out by three different families, which involved children as young as nine years old. According to the police, the attacks were based on instruction from the Islamic State.
Roni Faisal, a police officer, is also being praised for his heroic act after saving a wounded girl from the family who detonated a suicide bomb in front of the Surabaya Police headquarters.
Based on a CCTV recording, the suicide bombers, identified as one family consisting of five people on two motorcycles, tried to get into the station, but the bomb exploded as the police officers guarding the gate stopped them.
After the blast, a girl was seen to be getting up between her dead family members. Roni, who was near, immediately ran to take her away from the scene, fearing there would be another explosion.
"My goal is only one, humanity and compassion for seeing the condition of a child covered in blood," Roni told reporters, Antara reported. The girl, 8, is now being treated in intensive care in Port Health Center (PHC) Hospital Surabaya.
Empty Streets, Tight Security in Surabaya
Rininta Fisca Wardhani, a postgraduate student at Surabaya’s Airlangga University, said she is concerned about the possibility of another bombing incident, as her house is located in front of a big church.
"So I’m really scared that there will be another bomb, especially in that church nearby my house," Rininta told the Globe.
A number of city residents who spoke to the Jakarta Globe said roads and public places are emptier than usual since the incident, as people prefer to stay inside.
"Following the attack, people are more cautious. The streets are less crowded compared to normal, and a lot of malls are deserted," said Michelle S, a Surabaya resident.
Annisa Noorvitasari, who lives just two kilometers away from Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church, one of the three targeted churches on Sunday, said she is trying to avoid broadcast messages cautioning people to stay away from public places.
"I am trying to ignore broadcast messages on Whatsapp or other social media outlets ordering people to stay away from certain places in the city, because they are spreading fear. I prefer finding trusted news sources," said Annisa, who is also a postgraduate student at Airlangga University.
According to Michelle, security has grown tighter since the incident, which has helped her feel at ease in the wake of terror.
“Personally, I don’t feel afraid. I think the police and other security officers are extremely alert in response to what has happened. Now if you go to the airport, there’s a tight security check, and even if you go to some housing areas and malls they are also conducting security checks," Michelle said.