News / Asia

    Islamic State Claims Deadly Jakarta Attack

    IS Claims Its First Attack on Indonesiai
    X
    January 15, 2016 1:17 AM
    Seven people are dead: a Canadian national, an Indonesian civilian and five attackers — some of whom blew themselves up — in what is the first terrorist attack in Indonesia by the Islamic State group. More than 20 other people, including some foreigners, were wounded. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the scene in Jakarta.

    Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Thursday's coordinated bomb and gun attack in the Indonesian capital that left seven people dead, including all five attackers.

    The Islamic State-linked Aamaq News Agency says the attack in an upscale neighborhood in central Jakarta "targeted foreign nationals and security forces charged with protecting them." Foreigners were among 20 people who were wounded.

    Earlier, Indonesian national police spokesman Anton Charliyan said an IS-affiliated group was probably behind the assault, and the attackers were likely trying to imitate the November Paris terror attacks.

    The Jakarta police chief went further, naming an Indonesian in Syria as responsible. “All leaders of Islamic State in Southeast Asia are competing to be the regional chief," Tito Karnavian told reporters. "That’s why [Indonesian IS fighter] Bahrun Naim plotted this attack."

    Watch video of the blast and aftermath:

    Jakarta Blast Videoi
    X
    January 14, 2016 1:41 PM
    Jakarta Blast Video

    The violence began with a series of explosions mid-morning in an area near a shopping center, luxury hotels, embassies and other office buildings. The first two occurred in the outdoor smoking area and a parking lot of a Starbucks.  A third explosion rocked a small police station.   

    The militants engaged in intense gun battles with police throughout the day. By late afternoon, authorities declared the attack over, saying all five militants were killed. A Canadian national and an Indonesian citizen were also killed, police said.

    Jakarta, Indonesia.
    Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Busy spot

    "This is a very popular shopping area with restaurants and office buildings. About 50 meters from there is the United Nations office. The U.S. Embassy is almost around 400 or 500 meters from there, not far from the presidential palace, actually. So this is a really centrally located place," said VOA Indonesian Service reporter Frans Demon.

    While clearing Tamarin Avenue where the attacks occurred, police say they found one large and five small unexploded bombs. It is not clear why the bombs did not go off.

    Indonesian authorities in November had received a threat from Islamic State about a coordinated bomb attack in the capital.

    "Around Christmas and New Year's there was a threat by this group [IS] that they will do what they call a 'concert' in Jakarta, meaning they will set off bomb explosions in several places at the same time," said Demon.

    A heavy police presence now on the streets of Jakarta is aimed at reassuring citizens. Zainal Arifin hopes that it will also stop future attacks. “Jakarta’s citizens, including myself, are now scared to go to shopping malls and other public places. But the police say we have nothing to fear because they’ll protect us. Hopefully this won’t happen again,” he said.

    People carry an injured police officer near the site where an explosion went off at a police post, rear, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan. 14, 2016.
    People carry an injured police officer near the site where an explosion went off at a police post, rear, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan. 14, 2016.

    Another IS external attack

    A U.S. counterterrorism official told VOA there was no reason to doubt Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the attacks.

    U.S. military and intelligence officials have been warning the terror group has been placing a greater emphasis on so-called external attacks, devoting more people and resources, while using the attacks in Paris that killed 130 as a model.

    “It’s definitely a symptom of the losses they’ve been suffering, like in [the Iraqi city of] Ramadi,” a U.S. official told VOA on condition of anonymity.

    The official said Islamic State has repeatedly shown that when its forces falter fighting a more conventional-style war on the ground, it will shift toward more asymmetric, terrorist tactics, both in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere.

    The official also said it was possible, that like the November Paris attacks, the attack in Jakarta combined the use of “inspired” elements in Indonesia as well as militants taking some direction from Islamic State leaders in Syria and Iraq.

    The United States condemned the attacks "in the strongest possible terms." A White House statement said the U.S. will stand by its strategic partnership with Indonesia and "the Government of Indonesia as it works to bring those responsible for this barbaric terrorist attack to justice and build a more secure future."

    Police officers stand guard outside a damaged Starbucks cafe after an attack in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.
    Police officers stand guard outside a damaged Starbucks cafe after an attack in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

    Attack condemned

    Secretary of State John Kerry also condemned the assault. "We stand together, all of us, united in our efforts to eliminate those who choose terror," Kerry told reporters in London.

    U.N. Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon expressed solidarity with Indonesia's people.

    • Police officers take cover behind a vehicle during a gun battle with attackers near the site where an explosion went off in Jakarta, Indonesia, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in the capital and waged gunbattles with police.
    • A plainclothes police officer aims his gun at attackers during a gun battle following explosions in Jakarta.
    • Indonesian workers run as they are evacuated from their offices at Thamrin business district in Jakarta.
    • Several explosions went off and gunfire broke out in the center of the Indonesian capital and police said they suspected a suicide bomber was responsible for at least one the blasts.
    • An Indonesian policeman runs near the site of a blast in the center of the Indonesian capital.
    • Police officers gather outside a Pizza Hut restaurant next door to a Starbucks cafe which was attacked in Jakarta.
    • People carry an injured police officer near the site where an explosion went off in Jakarta.
    • Indonesian soldiers man armored vehicles as they guard near the site where an attack occurred in Jakarta.
    • Indonesians lay flowers near the police post where an attack took place in the center of the Indonesian capital.
    • Indonesian policemen examine debris from a bomb blast inside a Starbucks coffee at Thamrin business district in Jakarta.


    Indonesian President Joko Widodo, speaking to a local television station, condemned the "acts of terror," stressing authorities are working to contain the situation.

    "Our nation and our people should not be afraid. We will not be defeated by these acts of terror. I hope the public stays calm," said the president, who visited the bombing scene later in the day.

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, in white shirt, visits the site of a bomb blast at Thamrin business district in Jakarta, Jan. 14, 2016.
    Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, in white shirt, visits the site of a bomb blast at Thamrin business district in Jakarta, Jan. 14, 2016.

    Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, has been the target of several terrorist attacks, most notably the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

    Before Thursday, the last attack against foreigners was a twin hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2009.

    An Indonesian policeman runs near the site of a blast in Jakarta, Jan. 14, 2016.An Indonesian policeman runs near the site of a blast in Jakarta, Jan. 14, 2016.

    Jakarta has long been warning about the threat of recruitment by Islamic State and other extremist groups. Hundreds of Indonesians are believed to have left to fight with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

    VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin, State Department correspondent Pam Dockens and William Gallo contributed to this report from Washington.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: riano baggy from: ina
    January 15, 2016 12:39 AM
    unity make our country strong and brave to fight terrorist
    In Response

    by: Htin Lin Aung from: Yangon , Myanmar
    January 16, 2016 2:30 AM
    right.

    by: Anonymous
    January 14, 2016 9:57 PM
    Counter IS is the responsibility of the international community

    by: Ali Ibrahimi
    January 14, 2016 5:40 PM
    I condemn this terrorist attack.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 14, 2016 1:11 PM
    If there is no way found to weed out Islamic terrorists and those who can be radicalized, the only solution the world may have is to outlaw Islam. Islam as taken literally is more than a religion, it is a political cause that is rigid, brutally cruel, and seeks to control the entire world. This cannot be acceptable. If this cancer of Islamic terrorism cannot be weeded out, then the rest of the world will have no alternative. If we don't stop it, eventually they will get their hands on destructive means the likes of which the world has never seen used to kill people.

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