By Agence France-Presse
Indonesia’s elite anti-terror squad was Thursday investigating a suicide bombing near a Jakarta bus station that killed three policemen in an assault authorities believe is linked to the Islamic State group.
Authorities raided the houses on Java island of two men suspected of being the bombers who unleashed carnage outside the busy terminal late Wednesday, sending huge clouds of black smoke into the sky and people fleeing in panic.
Three policemen were killed, while six other officers and five civilians were injured in an assault that left body parts and shattered glass strewn across the road.
Police said they believed there was a link between the attackers and the Islamic State (IS) group, without giving further details. Hundreds of Indonesians have flocked abroad to fight with the jihadists and IS-supporting militants have been behind a series of recent plots and attacks in the archipelago.
The bus station bombing was the deadliest attack in Indonesia since January 2016, when a suicide blast and gun assault claimed by IS in downtown Jakarta left four attackers and four civilians dead.
In a televised address, President Joko Widodo said he had ordered a thorough probe and was “urging all citizens across the nation to stay calm and remain united”.
“I convey my deepest condolences to the victims and their families — especially the police officers who passed away while performing their duty,” he added.
Police believe they were specifically targeted in the bombing. The attack came as they were preparing to provide security for a traditional torch parade near the Kampung Melayu terminal, which is an area frequented by locals but not foreigners.
The police’s elite anti-terror squad Densus 88, which has played a leading role in tracking down and killing some of Indonesia’s most wanted militants, is now taking the lead in the investigation.
Struggle with militancy
In a raid Thursday morning of one bombing suspects’ house in the city of Bandung, police discovered documents about Islamic teaching and two bladed weapons, West Java province police spokesman Yusri Yunus told AFP.
The man was married with two children and used to work as a herbal medicine seller, said the spokesman.
The second suspect’s house in the city of Cimahi, outside Bandung, was also searched and his mother and sister were found to be living there, said Yunus.
Relatives of both men, whose identities have not been released, were taken in for questioning, he said.
Asked whether there was a link between IS and the group behind the attack, national police spokesman Awi Setyono responded “yes there is”, without giving further details.
Suspicion is likely to fall on local network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports IS and has been blamed for recent, mostly low-impact, attacks.
The bombs used in Wednesday’s attacks were made from pressure cookers, similar to a device used in an attack by a JAD militant in the Indonesian city of Bandung in February.
Another figure who may come under scrutiny is Indonesian radical Bahrun Naim, who is fighting with IS in Syria and has been accused of directing a series of mostly botched terror plots in his homeland.
Police said the first bomb in the latest Jakarta attack was detonated at 9:00 pm (1400 GMT) in an area where police officers were on duty. Five minutes later the second bomber struck about 10 metres (32 feet) away.
The Kampung Melayu terminal is a local hub served by minibuses and buses.
Indonesia has long struggled with Islamic militancy and has suffered a series of attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
A sustained crackdown weakened the most dangerous networks but the emergence of IS has proved a potent new rallying cry for radicals.
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