INDONESIA – Jakarta attacked
IS claims responsibility for strikes
JAKARTA –– The so-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind a series of explosions and gun attacks in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
At least two civilians and five attackers died in the assaults, described as an attempt to mimic the deadly Paris attacks.
Security forces battled militants for hours in a major business and shopping district.
It follows warnings late last year that Islamists were planning a major attack.
IS released a statement online claiming the attacks, which it said were carried out by “soldiers of the Caliphate”, targeting “citizens of the Crusader coalition” against the group.
Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian said Indonesian national Bahrun Naim, who has been known to the authorities since at least 2010 and is currently thought to be in Syria, had been “planning this for a while”.
The assault began late morning local time, when blasts struck near a Starbucks cafe and police security post, in an area close to embassies and government buildings.
“There was lot of commotion, a lot of craziness,” said Rob Phillips, an English teacher who lives in the area.
“We heard a large bang. We thought it was thunder because the storms here are pretty big.”
Gunmen fled to the Djakarta Theatre, part of the same complex that houses the Starbucks, where a stand-off developed with police.
Explosions and gunfire rang out for hours before police declared the situation under control.
Two of the attackers were killed in a suicide bombing, police said, with the other three killed in gun battles with police.
A Canadian and an Indonesian national, both civilians, also died.
Bodies of the militants who were killed were left sprawling in the street. Police said 20 people were injured in the attacks, including five police officers.
Several foreigners are also reported to be among the wounded, including one Dutch national.
The attack on the Indonesian capital is sadly part of a pattern that has been repeating itself in several cities around the world in recent months, the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner says.
Istanbul, Paris and now Jakarta have all experienced what counterterrorism officials classify as a Marauding Terrorist Firearms Attack, or MTFA for short.
Preventing such attacks requires better intelligence and needs more effective sharing of information among the people who need to know it, our correspondent adds.
National police spokesman Anton Charliyan said the perpetrators had “imitated” the Paris attacks.
He said police had received warnings in November from IS they were planning a “concert in Indonesia”, meaning an attack.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called on his country not to be defeated by “these acts of terror”.
Several foreign governments advise caution while visiting Indonesia, with the British Foreign Office urging its nationals to “maintain vigilance” after the attacks.
Indonesia was on high alert over the new year period after threats from IS.
Up to 200 Indonesians are estimated to have gone to Syria to fight with IS.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but is largely secular, although in recent years the threat of radicalism has remained high as small networks of militants are still thought to be operating in the country.