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Wife, Child of Militant Suspect Die in Suicide Bombing in Indonesia

Arie Firdaus
Jakarta
2019-03-13
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Indonesian police officers stand guard near the house of a suspected militant in Sibolga, North Sumatra, March 13, 2019.
Indonesian police officers stand guard near the house of a suspected militant in Sibolga, North Sumatra, March 13, 2019.
AP

Updated at 1:58 p.m. ET on 2019-03-13

The wife of a suspected militant detonated a bomb during a siege at a house in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, killing herself and her 2-year-old child, police said on Wednesday.

Police had surrounded the house in Sibolga city on Tuesday, a day after they arrested the woman’s husband, identified as Husain (alias Abu Hamzah), on suspicion of terrorism links, police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters.

The woman allegedly detonated an explosive device when officers tried to enter the house on Tuesday, injuring a policeman, Dedi said.

After a 10-hour standoff, she was believed to have detonated another bomb in the early hours of Wednesday, he said.

“The bodies have been recovered and sent to Sibolga Hospital,” Dedi said.

The blast took place 10 months after three families involved their children as young as nine, including two small girls, in carrying out suicide bombings that killed 28 people at churches and a police station in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, officials said.

President Joko “Jokowi" Widodo, who is scheduled to visit Sibolga on Sunday, said the police operation had nothing to do with the upcoming presidential election scheduled for April 17.

“We appreciate the police for their hard work,” Jokowi told reporters.

Dedi said the homemade pipe bomb used by the woman to kill herself and her child contained potassium, bolts, nails and broken glass. "We have received information that the wife blew herself up," Dedi told The Jakarta Post.

Husain was believed to be a member of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a militant network affiliated with the extremist group Islamic State (IS), national police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters.

Police said JAD members were responsible for the suicide bombings on three churches and the police headquarters in Surabaya in May last year.

Thirteen members of three families were among those who died in the attacks – the first suicide bombings involving family members in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation of more than 260 million people.

Dedi said the president’s visit to Sibolga would go ahead despite the incident.

Woman was radicalized by her husband, police say

Police had tried to persuade the woman to surrender by bringing in local community and religious leaders, but she did not budge, officials said.

Tito said she had been radicalized by her husband Husain. He did not elaborate.

Tuesday’s siege in Sibolga followed the arrest of a man identified by authorities only by his initials R.I.N., alias Putra Syuhada, on Saturday in Bandar Lampung, capital of Lampung province.

Police alleged that R.I.N., who was arrested after being reported by his family, was planning to launch terrorist attacks on several police targets in Jakarta.

That man was among five terrorist suspects who were arrested during the past week, including one in possession of suspected bomb-making materials such as nails, bolts and cans in West Kalimantan, police said.

New recruit

Husain was a new JAD recruit radicalized by a former convict who was involved in the bombing on the Riau provincial police headquarters last year, said Ridlwan Habib, a University of Indonesia security analyst.

“He learned to assemble bombs. But he had never joined a military training or traveled to Syria,” Ridlwan told BenarNews.

Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta contributed to this report.

Updated to add direct quote from police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo.

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