Indonesian police arrest 3 with suspected links to Jakarta attack

  • AP, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Updated: Jan 15, 2016 10:34 IST
An Indonesian policeman runs near the site of a blast in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Reuters Photo)

Indonesians were shaken but refusing to be cowed, a day after a deadly attack in a busy district of central Jakarta that has been claimed by the Islamic State group.

In a new development, police on Friday told an Indonesian TV channel they arrested three men on suspicion of links to the attack that killed seven people, including five attackers.

The area near a Starbucks coffee shop, where the attack 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 the 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.

Depok area police chief Colonel Dwiyono told MetroTV that the three men were arrested at dawn at their homes in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Dwiyono, who goes by one name, says the men are suspected militants and are being questioned over possible links to the attack on Thursday.

MetroTV broadcast footage of the handcuffed men being escorted by police.

Risti Amelia, an accountant at a company near the Starbucks restaurant said she was “still shaking and weak” when she returned to her office on Friday. Because staff remained emotional, the company decided to send workers home, she said.

Two civilians were killed in the attack that began on Thursday morning, an Indonesian and a Canadian. Another 20 people were wounded.

Jakarta police chief Major General Tito Karnavian has said the attackers had links with IS and were part of a group led by Bahrum Naim, an Indonesian militant who is now in Syria.

A message shared on Twitter late on Thursday claimed the attack was the work of IS, and the US-based SITE Intelligence Group said it was circulated among pro-IS groups on other media.

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. It said they wore suicide belts and carried light weaponry.

The statement could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, though it resembled previous claims made by the group, which controls territory in both Iraq and Syria.

Jakarta is no stranger to terrorism, with the 2009 bombings of two hotels that killed seven people and injured more than 50. The bloodiest attack by Islamic extremists in Indonesia — and in all of Asia — was in 2002, when a nightclub bombing on the resort island of Bali killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

Those and others were blamed on the al Qaeda-inspired Jemaah Islamiyah. Following a crackdown by security forces, militant strikes in recent years have been smaller and less deadly, and have targeted government authorities, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces. Terrorism experts say IS supporters in Indonesia are drawn from the remnants of Jemaah Islamiyah.

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