26 October 2016
A man lies wounded in the aftermath of the attack in downtown Jakarta Thursday. Photo: Reuters
A man lies wounded in the aftermath of the attack in downtown Jakarta Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Islamic State claims deadly attack in Indonesia

Islamic State said it was behind an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday, the first time the radical group has targeted Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Just seven people were killed despite multiple explosions and a gunfight, and five of them were the attackers themselves, but the brazenness of their siege suggested a new brand of militancy in a country where low-level strikes on police are common, Reuters reported.

It took security forces about three hours to end the attack near a Starbucks cafe and Sarinah’s, Jakarta’s oldest department store, after a team of militants traded gunfire with police and blew themselves up.

An Indonesian and a Canadian were killed in the attack.

Twenty people, including an Algerian, an Austrian, a German and a Dutchman, were wounded.

“A group of soldiers of the caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the crusader alliance that fights the Islamic State in Jakarta,” IS said in a statement.

Jakarta’s police chief, Tito Karnavian, told reporters: “ISIS is behind this attack definitely,” using a common acronym for Islamic State, and he named an Indonesian militant called Bahrun Naim as the man responsible for plotting it.

Police believe Naim is in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The drama played out on the streets and on television screens, with at least six explosions and a gunfight in a movie theater.

But the low death toll pointed to the involvement of local militants with rudimentary weapons, experts said.

“The president has said the nation and the people should not be scared and should not be defeated by acts of terror,” palace spokesman Ari Dwipayana was quoted as saying.

Karnavian said one man entered the Starbucks cafe and blew himself up, wounding several inside.

As people poured out of the cafe, two waiting gunmen opened fire on them.

At the same time, two militants attacked a police traffic post nearby, using what he described as hand grenade-like bombs.

Indonesia has seen attacks by Islamist militants before, but a coordinated assault by a team of suicide bombers and gunmen is unprecedented and has echoes of the sieges seen in Mumbai seven years ago and in Paris last November.

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