Friday 30 September 2016

ISIS flag found as three men arrested after deadly Jakarta suicide bomb

Published 15/01/2016 | 06:45

A plainclothes police officer aims his gun at attackers during a gun battle following explosions in Jakarta
A plainclothes police officer aims his gun at attackers during a gun battle following explosions in Jakarta
A man is seen holding a gun towards the crowd in central Jakarta, Indonesia when seven people were killed.

Police in Indonesia have arrested three men suspected of having links to the deadly Jakarta suicide bomb attacks and recovered an Islamic State (IS) flag from the home of one of them.

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The discovery of the flag bolsters authorities' claim that Thursday's attack was carried out by the group, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq and whose ambition to create an Islamic caliphate has attracted 30,000 foreign fighters from around the world, including a few hundred Indonesians and Malaysians.

A man is seen holding a gun towards the crowd in central Jakarta, Indonesia when seven people were killed.
A man is seen holding a gun towards the crowd in central Jakarta, Indonesia when seven people were killed.

The suspects were detained in a dawn swoop at their homes in Depok, on the outskirts of the capital.

They are being questioned over possible links to the Jakarta attacks which killed seven people, including five of the perpetrators. MetroTV broadcast footage of the handcuffed men being escorted by police.

The civilians killed on Thursday were an Indonesian and a Canadian. Another 20 people were wounded.

National police spokesman Major General Anton Charliyan said investigators believed they had established the attackers' identities.

He said two of the five men were previously convicted and imprisoned for terrorism offences.

The IS link, if proved, poses a grave challenge to Indonesian security forces because until now the group was known only to have sympathisers with no active cells capable of planning and carrying out such an attack.

In recent years Indonesian anti-terror forces had successfully stamped out another extremist group known as Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for several attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 bombings of bars in Bali, which left 202 people dead, as well as two hotel bombings in Jakarta in 2009 that killed seven people.

Terrorism experts say IS supporters in Indonesia are drawn from the remnants of Jemaah Islamiyah.

A few hundred Indonesians are known to have travelled to Syria to join IS and few have come back. Still, police believe that an Indonesian IS fighter, Bahrum Naim, who is in Syria, may have inspired and instigated the Jakarta outrage.

Supporters of IS circulated a claim of responsibility for the attack on Twitter. The message said attackers carried out the Jakarta assault and had planted several bombs with timers. It differed from Indonesian police on the number of attackers, saying there were four.

The statement could not be independently verified, though it resembled previous claims made by the group.

Taufik Andri, a terrorist analyst, said although the assault ended swiftly and badly for the attackers, their aim was to show their presence and ability.

"Their main aim was just to give impression that Isis' supporters here are able to do what was done in Paris," he said, using an acronym for IS.

"It was just a Paris-inspired attack without being well prepared." Those attacks in November killed 130 people.

Meanwhile Indonesians were shaken but refusing to be cowed, a day after the outrage in a busy district of central Jakarta. IS claimed responsibility.

The area near a Starbucks coffee shop where the assault by suicide bombers and gunmen began remained cordoned off with a highly visible police presence on Friday.

Onlookers and journalists lingered nearby, with some people leaving flowers and messages of support.

A large screen atop the building that houses Starbucks displayed messages that said "#prayforjakarta" and "Indonesia Unite".

Newspapers carried bold front-page headlines declaring the country was united in condemnation of the attack, the first in Indonesia since 2009.

Risti Amelia, an accountant at a company near the Starbucks restaurant, said she was "still shaking and weak" when she returned to her office.

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