A spate of deadly bombings in Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya, involving two whole families as the assailants, has left deep wounds for the victims and their families, as well as for many people who condemn terrorism.

It may not have crossed most people's minds that parents would use their own children as suicide bombers, until the deadly explosions Sunday and Monday in the East Java provincial capital in which 23 people were killed and dozens more injured.

Indeed, appearances can be deceiving.

A police line has been placed at the house of Dita Oepriarto who blew himself up along with his wife and four children, ranging in age between 8 and 17, in attacks on three churches during Sunday morning services, killing 13 other people and injuring 43.

It later emerged that Dita was the leader of the Islamic State-linked radical group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah for the Surabaya region.

Wery Tri Kusuma, a 46-year-old former laundry manager at a hotel in Surabaya whose house is next to Dita's, said Tuesday that it came as a shock to learn that his neighbors were terrorists.

"I am surprised. We never thought anything bad about that family. They looked normal. We didn't have suspicion of them because they were very friendly to us," he said, adding that several years ago his son used to play together with one of their two daughters.

Wery and his wife has just returned home from three days at his parents' house after police asked several Dita's neighbors to temporarily leave their homes. He has been living in the housing complex since 1997, while Dita moved there in 2012.

"My son is still at my parents' house as he is traumatized," he said.

One might be tempted to assume that terrorists come from economically deprived or uneducated backgrounds, but that is not always the case.

Dita came from a rich family, having a big house and running his own business as major supplier of several kinds of food oils, such as almond and olive oil.

"All four of their children studied at an Islamic private school. The school is famous and expensive," Wery said. The information contradicted to a statement by East Java Police Chief Machfud Arifin, who said they did not attend school.

(Few, if any, suspected Dita Oepriarto and his family to be terrorists.)
[Photo courtesy of East Java Police Headquarters]

Wery said he never suspected that Dita harbored radical ideology as he merely knew him as "a very soft man" who was kind to his children, who themselves were well-disciplined.

"Once the father said (something), the children immediately obeyed the instruction," he said.

Similar impressions are held by Yanto, 47, a housing complex security guard.

Dita's family, he said, "had no economic problems as he himself was a businessman and able to send all children to a prominent school."

In daily life, Dita was known as a religious person.

"I often saw him and his sons going to mosque by riding motorcycles for performing prayer, five times in a day," he said.

Yanto described Dita as kind, generous and friendly.

However, he added, "All what we could see was only by their looks and appearances. We never knew what was in their hearts."

"I couldn't believe that he joined such a radical group and was able to conduct (the bombing attacks) as he was a calm person," he said.

Monday's suicide bombings were carried about by another family who lived about a 20-minute drive from Dita's house, in a rented house in a middle-class housing complex.

The family of 49-year-old Tri Murtiono, along with his wife and three children, blew themselves up at the Surabaya Police Headquarters, with only their 7-year-old daughter surviving. Nobody else was killed, but 10 people were injured.

Siti Musayana, a 36-year-old housewife whose house is next door to Tri's, said, "I was not suspicious at all even though I often saw him arriving home late at night at around 1 or 2 a.m., bringing at least three cardboard boxes."

"I never know what was inside the boxes," she said.

Musayana frequently sleeps very late as she has a 1-and-a-half-year-old baby girl, she said.

Tri's spouse Ernawati, a 42-year-old housewife, wore a niqab and "we never said hello to each other," she said.

Another neighbor, civil servant Nurkayatim, said that on Monday morning, just shortly before the incident, Tri bought a gallon of drinking water near his house.

Nurkayatim, 45, said that when the shopkeeper remarked to Tri about the previous day's explosions in Surabaya, he seemingly mumbled something to himself and excused himself, saying he had personal business to attend to.

As Tri and his family had just lived at the housing complex for three months, not many neighbors knew them well.

"They were unsociable," she said.

The bombings in Surabaya on Sunday and Monday were the first terrorist attacks in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, to involve children among the suicide bombers, police said.

All these bombings occurred shortly after a series of attacks on police near the national capital Jakarta days earlier. Those attacks, in which five police died, began with the rioting of detained Islamic militants at the detention center of the elite police unit Mobile Brigade in Depok, a suburb of Jakarta.

After the rioting began May 8, radical Muslim groups called via social media for their followers to go to the detention center to help the inmates battle the police.