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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jakarta suicide bombing kills three police officers

JAKARTA (AFP) - A suicide bombing attack outside a busy bus terminal in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Wednesday killed three police officers, the latest assault to hit the Muslim-majority country as it struggles with a surge of terror plots.

Several other police officers and civilians were injured when two bombers launched the attack in a street next to the station, which sent panicked people running for their lives and clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky.

Human body parts and shattered glass were strewn across the road following the attack, which happened at about 9:00 pm (1400 GMT) as police were helping to secure a parade by a local group outside the terminal in the working-class district.

It was not clear who was behind the attack but Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, has been on high alert after a string of plots and attacks in recent times by militants inspired by the Islamic State (IS) group.

The Kampung Melayu terminal in east Jakarta -- which is frequented by locals and is not popular with foreign visitors -- had been busy when the attack happened, and witnesses described scenes of panic as two blasts rang out minutes apart.

Dicky Wahyudin, 37, said he had been drinking a coffee across the road when the attack happened, prompting people to flee.

"Suddenly I heard two explosions, which were big -- I immediately ran away," he told AFP.

A local shopkeeper, Rosmala -- who like many Indonesians goes by one name -- added: "At first I saw smoke and shattered glass, the earth was shaking, I was shocked. After a few minutes there was another blast."

- Struggle with militancy -

National police spokesman Setyo Wasisto told reporters that two suicide bombers had been involved in the attack and three police officers had died. He had earlier said he believed only one attacker was involved.

"I have to convey my deepest condolences because three police officers died," he said.

Five other police officers and five civilians were injured, Wasisto said. Both suicide bombers, who were men, died during the attack, he added.

The terminal is a local hub served by minibuses and buses.

Indonesia has long struggled with Islamic militancy and has suffered a series of attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

A sustained crackdown weakened the most dangerous networks but the emergence of IS has proved a potent new rallying cry for radicals.

Hundreds of radicals from the Southeast Asian state have flocked to fight with IS, sparking fears that weakened extremist outfits could get a new lease of life.

A gun and suicide attack in the capital Jakarta left four attackers and four civilians dead in January last year, and was the first assault claimed by IS in Southeast Asia.

Numerous recent IS-linked plots in Indonesia have been botched or foiled, with analysts saying that many of the country's militants lack the capacity to launch serious attacks.

More ............................

East Jakarta suicide bombers identified, linked to militants in Central Sulawesi
JAKARTA: The two suspects who killed three policemen at a bus terminal in east Jakarta on Wednesday night in a suicide bombing have ties to militants in Poso, Central Sulawesi, a police source said. 

Both suspects were killed in the twin blasts, the source confirmed. 

He identified the first suspect as Solihin, an administrative staff at the Darul Anshor, an Islamic boarding school in Poso, and the other as Ichwan Nurul Salam, a 34-year-old man from Bandung, West Java. 

The police have also determined that the bombs were low-grade explosives that contained aluminium scraps. 

While the police believe the suspects had ties to extremists in Central Sulawesi, counter-terrorism investigators are trying to establish if they were also linked to the remnants of the East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) militant group which operates out of Poso. 

The MIT is behind several terror attacks in Indonesia since 2012, including skirmishes with security forces during which police officers and people in Central Sulawesi were killed. 

MIT leader Santoso, also known as Abu Wardah, and another MIT combatant, were killed in the fire-fight last year. 

Santoso and his men from MIT had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

Three Indonesian policemen were killed and five other officers were injured after the two suspects allegedly set off what was believed to be a pressure cooker bomb near a bus terminal in Kampung Melayu, in East Jakarta, at about 9pm local time on Wednesday. 

It appeared that the bombing followed a similar pattern of attack by domestic militants targeting local police officers in Indonesia. 

The policemen had assembled to escort a scheduled a parade organised by a community group in the neighbourhood when the explosion was heard, said the police. 

On July 5 last year, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up after he was stopped by officers from entering the local police headquarters in Solo city. 

The bomber had used low-grade explosives in the homemade bomb, which like most improvised explosive devices (IEDs), contained ball-bearings and screws, and was trying to attack the policemen as they reported for their shift. 

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, has long struggled with militancy, and hundreds of radicals from the South-East Asian state have flocked to fight with the Islamic State, sparking fears that weakened extremist outfits could get a new lease of life.  - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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