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Indonesian Police Gun Down Militant Suspect on Sumatra Island

Rina Chadijah
Jakarta
2020-02-07
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Members of Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism police escort suspected militants during a news conference at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta, Oct. 17, 2019.
Members of Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism police escort suspected militants during a news conference at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta, Oct. 17, 2019.
AP

Indonesian police shot dead a suspected militant who hurled a homemade bomb at officers who were trying to arrest him on allegations of links with a banned group affiliated with the Islamic State in Riau province on Sumatra Island, officials said Friday.

A policeman was injured in the incident that took place on Thursday on a fishing boat in the Kampar river in Pelalawan district, according to Senior Commissioner Sunarto, provincial police spokesman.

Police identified the slain 29-year-old suspect as Wahyu (alias Ibnu Thayyi) and said he was believed to be a member of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an Indonesian group that was designated by the U.S. State Department in January 2017 as a terrorist group.

“When asked to surrender, the suspect threw a pipe bomb at the officers, so they had no choice but to ‘paralyze’ him,” Sunarto, who uses only one name, told BenarNews.

National police spokesman Asep Adi Saputra declined to provide details of the arrest, saying police were still investigating.

Local media reported that Wahyu, who had a wife and a child, had disappeared from his village in Jambi province since last month.

“I have lived in this village for a long time but we did not know he was involved in terrorism," village head Razali was quoted by the news portal Tribunnews as saying, referring to Wahyu.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has been hit by a string of terrorist attacks in the past two decades, with more recent strikes being blamed on JAD, which was founded in 2015 by Aman Abdurrahman, who was sentenced to death in 2018 for his role in a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

An Indonesian court outlawed JAD in a July 2018 verdict that was seen as making it easier for law enforcement officials to arrest suspected members.

JAD was tagged as an illegal group two months after the coordinated attacks in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where two families carried out suicide bombings on three churches and a police station. Twenty-four people were killed, including the attackers who used their children as young as 9 in the bombings.

The group has also been linked to the terror attack in January last year in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where an Indonesian couple blew themselves up at a cathedral, killing 23 and wounding more than 100.

But last year, Indonesian police noted only eight acts of JAD-related terrorism in Muslim-majority country, a 57-percent decline from 2018, according to security analyst Zachary Abuza.

“The few attacks that did take place tended to be counterproductive, with over 280 suspected militants arrested in 2019,” he said.

The arrests included at least 74 suspects who were detained after the November 2019 suicide bombing at a police station in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province. The attack killed the bomber and injured six other people, including four officers.

Investigators said they believe that the bomber, 24-year-old Rabbial Muslim Nasution, and his widow, belonged to JAD.

The Medan attack took place a month after two suspected militants stabbed and wounded then-Security Minister Wiranto and two other people as he was visiting Banten province.

Both cases were linked to JAD, police said.

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