Terrorism Returns to Indonesia: 7 Dead

JAKARTA (TIP): The Jakarta attacks began, January 14, at about 10:40 local time (03:40 GMT) with a series of bomb blasts at an intersection near the Sarinah shopping mall and a Starbucks coffee shop.

Reports say that there were at least six explosions in fairly quick succession.

The first blast took place outside the Starbucks cafe, which had its windows blown out.

As people inside ran out, two gunmen waiting outside opened fire.

At least two militants also attacked the police box in the centre of the intersection in a suicide bomb attack.

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Armed police quickly sealed off the area and moved in on the attackers, initially using cars and later armoured vehicles as cover.

Gunmen in the area continued firing at bystanders and police, with sporadic gunfire reported for several hours afterwards.

During a shootout, militants took cover in the Djakarta Theatre cinema, in the same building as Starbucks. Police said three attackers were killed in front of the cinema.

Reports said gunfire and explosions were also heard elsewhere in Jakarta, but it is not clear where those took place.

There have been conflicting reports – police initially warned there could be as many as 14 attackers.

However, they later said that the situation was “under control” after five militants were killed, including a foreigner.

Police said two attackers had died in a suicide bomb attack outside the police box, while three attackers were killed in a shootout with police at the Djakarta Theatre cinema.

However, in its statement, IS put the number of militants at four.

‘We are not afraid’

People in Jakarta have responded defiantly to the attacks in their city by posting the Indonesian phrase for “We are not afraid” on Twitter.

The hashtag #KamiTidakTakut has emerged in the aftermath of Thursday’s attacks.

A common meme, of a peace sign with a Jakarta landmark in its centre, was adapted from an image used on social media after the Paris attacks.

Where the Eiffel Tower stood in the Paris version, this shows Indonesia’s National Monument.

It stands in the centre of Jakarta as a symbol of the country’s struggle for independence. It is a famous landmark and popular meeting point in the city.

Some Twitter users wrote alongside it: “Fear is not in our dictionary.”

Another popular hashtagwas #JakartaBerani, which can be translated as “Jakarta is Brave”.

The Islamic State’s influence & role in Indonesia 

Indonesia has been expecting an attack from jihadist groups for months now.

Just before Christmas, police arrested nine people over planned terror attacks and seized bomb-making equipment in raids across Java.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) said it had carried out the attacks, in an online statement that could not be independently verified.

Indonesian police said they believed Bahru Naim, an Indonesian currently thought to be in Syria had masterminded the attack and been “planning this for a while” and that they had received funding from Syria for the attacks.

Police chief Tito Karnavian told local media Bahrun Naim wanted to be IS’s leader in the region.

“All leaders (of IS) in Southeast Asia are competing to be the chief. That’s why Bahrun Naim plotted this attack,” he said. He also added that he believed the attacks in the city were part of a continuing rivalry between Filipino jihadist groups and Bahrun Naim over who would lead any potential IS group in the region.

Following the Paris terror attacks in November, he published a post on his personal blog – now unavailable – praising them and noted a number of “lessons” he said could be learned, including the way the terror cells in Europe were united and how orderly their operations were.

Meanwhile, national police spokesman Maj Gen Anton Charilyan said the militants had imitated the recent Paris attacks. However, security experts say the gunmen appeared to be inexperienced, with little training.

The fact that the Jakarta attacks were claimed by IS but also preceded by a message from al-Qaeda specifically targeting Indonesians is some indication of the continuing interest the two groups have in the country.

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