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Indonesian Police Foil Bomb Plots, Arrest Militant Suspects

Tia Asmara and Putra Andespu
Jakarta
2019-10-15
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Armored vehicles are lined up inside the parliament complex in Jakarta in preparation for Sunday’s second inauguration of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Oct. 15, 2019.
Armored vehicles are lined up inside the parliament complex in Jakarta in preparation for Sunday’s second inauguration of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Oct. 15, 2019.
AFP

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET on 2019-10-15

Indonesian police on Tuesday said they uncovered alleged suicide attack plots targeting officials, security personnel and places of worship on Java island by suspected members of a militant network affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) just days after a man and a woman linked to the network allegedly stabbed the nation's security minister and two others.

Police and military officials also announced increased security measures leading up to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s second inauguration on Sunday.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said anti-terrorism unit Densus 88 personnel arrested two suspected members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) on Tuesday and seized bomb-making materials including chemicals RDX and HMTD during a West Java raid.

“It was an interesting finding because the bombs that were being prepared for use by suicide bombers were highly explosive,” Dedi told reporters. “They were different from those usually assembled by JAD and other terrorist groups. The chemical mix is more dangerous.”

The two suspects, identified by their initials S and LT, were believed to be would-be suicide bombers whose targets included police and places of worship in Cirebon, Dedi said. Police also arrested two suspects in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, and confiscated air rifles, knives and other crude weapons.

The arrests brought to 26 the number of militant suspects rounded up across the country since Oct. 10, when the two suspected JAD militants armed with knives attacked security minister Wiranto and two other people, police said.

Wiranto, a former chief of Indonesia’s armed forces, was stepping out of a car during a working visit to Pandeglang, a town in Banten province west of Jakarta, when a couple lunged at him and others with knives, police said.

Police said the couple who launched the attack, Syahrial Alamsyah (alias Abu Rara) and Fitri Andriana were loosely linked to JAD and had been monitored by authorities for three months.

Wiranto is recovering in an army hospital in Jakarta after surgery.

Suicide plots

Dedi said based on questioning of some of most recently arrested suspects, investigators believe JAD militants were plotting to carry out suicide bombings on places of worship and police headquarters in central Java.

“The would-be suicide bombers have been prepared to carry out terrorist acts in Solo and Yogyakarta,” Dedi said.

The suspects had been given orders to carry out attacks “anywhere, any time,” Dedi told BenarNews. “Their main targets are police. The next targets are state officials.”

He said the planned attacks likely were intended to avenge the arrest of nine JAD suspects near Jakarta last month.

On Monday, Dedi said militants arrested in different parts of the country had been communicating by using instant messaging platform Telegram, which is known for secure encryption. Despite the communication, they acted independently in deciding their targets.

Inauguration security

About 31,000 security personnel are to be on duty during Jokowi’s second inauguration on Oct. 20, police and the military said. The event is expected to be attended by six foreign heads of state and government and about 150 foreign representatives.

“The TNI (military) has prepared 8,500 personnel from various units who are ready to be moved when requested by the national police,” armed forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Sisriadi told BenarNews.

The number was in accordance with standard procedure for handling unexpected events such as a riot, said Sisriadi, who goes by one name.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Andika Perkasa said he is ready to mobilize all his forces to safeguard the inauguration.

“We have prepared almost all personnel, not only from combat units throughout Indonesia. Our focus is dealing with major events this week,” he told reporters at a news conference.

Dedi said there is no intelligence information indicating a plan for a terrorist attack during the inauguration.

Indonesia has been rocked by weeks of street protests led by university students against legislation that critics said could undermine democratic reforms and the fight against corruption.

Clashes between security forces and the protesters left five civilians dead in Kendari on Sulawesi island and Jakarta, and hundreds injured.

On Monday, military commander Maj. Gen. Eko Margiyono said street protests would be banned through the inauguration on Sunday.

“Any demonstration would be illegal,” Eko told local media.

Kusumasari Ayuningtyas in Klaten, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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