Uzbek suspects blamed for fatal stabbing during escape from Indonesian detention center

Pizaro Gozali Idrus
Uzbek suspects blamed for fatal stabbing during escape from Indonesian detention center Aswin Siregar (right), spokesman for the police counterterrorism unit Densus 88, speaks to reporters at the National Police Headquarters in Jakarta, April 11. 2023.
[Courtesy National Police Headquarters]

Three suspected Uzbek militants allegedly fatally stabbed an officer and injured four others when they escaped an immigration detention center in Jakarta before being hunted down, police said on Tuesday.

The trio, allegedly affiliated with al-Qaeda, escaped Monday, with two of them captured later in the day. The third suspect drowned in a Jakarta canal, also on Monday, while being pursued by police, according to Aswin Siregar, a spokesman for the police counterterrorism unit Densus 88. 

“They incapacitated and attacked the officers using a kitchen knife or whatever they could get from the pantry,” Aswin said at a news conference.

Officers found the two surviving suspects hiding in a vacant lot near the immigration office, Aswin said. 

Police are investigating the case as a murder and a terrorist act, Aswin said, adding that officers seized a knife used in the attack and an autopsy was conducted on the victim.

The trio was among four Uzbek nationals detained by counterterrorism officers on March 24, Aswin said. Police said they had tracked down the suspects after receiving information from Uzbek authorities that they were spreading propaganda and recruiting followers on social media.

The fourth suspect, who did not join the escape attempt, remained in custody. 

Aswin said the suspects had tried to flee because they did not want to be sent back to Uzbekistan.

“They did not want to be deported to their home country because they would face heavier punishments there,” he said.

The police said the Uzbek suspects – whom they identified only by their initials – had entered Indonesia through Malaysia in February.

Aswin said the suspects were part of Khatiba Tawhid Wal Jihad, a militant group added in 2022 to the sanctions list of the United Nations Security Council for its links to al-Qaeda.

The group is a splinter faction of the Uzbek-led militant organization Jannat Oshiklari, which operates under the umbrella of al-Nusrah Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the U.N. said. 

The group has about 500 fighters and operates in the Syrian provinces of Hama, Idlib and Ladhiqiyah, where it cooperates with other terrorist groups such as Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari and the Islamic Jihad Group, according to the U.N.

The sanctions imposed by the Security Council include a travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo. 

Police said two of the suspects previously traveled to Syria and joined a militant training camp there.

When they were arrested in March, police seized several items including passports, money receipts, iPads, cellphones and screenshots of their online posts. 

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has been grappling with religious extremism for decades and has suffered several deadly attacks by militants affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. 

These include the October 2002 Bali bombings, in which 202 people were killed.


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