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Indonesian police in shoot-out with Myanmar plot suspects

May 08, 2013

Myanmar is in the grip of acute religious tension after a deadly wave of unrest in March that saw monks and Buddhist mobs attack Muslim areas.—File Photo

BANDUNG, Indonesia: Indonesian anti-terror police exchanged fire Wednesday with four men holed up in a house suspected of involvement in a plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy.

The shoot-out came after the elite unit swooped on a hideout in Bandung, West Java, at 11:30 am, with the suspects at one point throwing a pipe-bomb, police said.

The officers, wearing combat gear, returned fire and hurled tear gas into the building in a bid to flush out the suspects, while hundreds of local police formed a cordon and a large crowd gathered to watch, an AFP reporter said.

After several hours, police were seen dragging a man to a nearby vehicle. A police spokesman confirmed the 25-year-old arrested was one of the suspects, but the standoff continued.

He said the man did not surrender but gave no further details.

Police raided the house, which is surrounded by paddy fields, “after the arrest of terrorists in Jakarta” last week, said deputy police chief Nanan Soekarna.

Anti-terrorist police last Thursday detained two men suspected of planning a bomb attack on the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta, following violence in Myanmar that has left many minority Muslims dead and tens of thousands displaced.

Five assembled pipe-bombs were found in a backpack the men were carrying, and they had planned to launch the attack last Friday, according to officials.

Anger has been growing in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, over the violence in largely Buddhist Myanmar.

There has been particular concern over violence against the Rohingya, as an increasing number of the minority arrive in Indonesia by boat fleeing the violence in their homeland.

After the embassy plot was uncovered, hundreds of members of hardline group the Islamic Defenders Front rallied outside the mission on Friday, calling for “jihad in Myanmar” to avenge Muslim deaths.

Myanmar is in the grip of acute religious tension after a deadly wave of unrest in March that saw monks and Buddhist mobs attack Muslim areas.

Clashes in Rakhine state last year between Rohingya and Buddhists left around 200 dead and tens of thousands displaced.

The violence spilled over to Indonesia last month when a group of Rohingya at an immigration detention centre on Sumatra island beat eight Myanmar Buddhists to death.