7 dead as series of blasts rock Indonesian capital

Published January 14, 2016
Tanks arrive at the blast scene in Jakarta. ─ Photo: Samantha Hawley official Twitter
Tanks arrive at the blast scene in Jakarta. ─ Photo: Samantha Hawley official Twitter
A body lies in the middle of the street near a damaged police post after a series of blasts hit Jakarta. ─ AFP
A body lies in the middle of the street near a damaged police post after a series of blasts hit Jakarta. ─ AFP

JAKARTA: An attack on Jakarta is over and no more perpertators are at large, police said Thursday, after gunfire and explosions left seven dead in the Indonesian capital.

“At the moment the situation is under control,” Jakarta police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said.

Indonesian police claimed to have arrested four suspected militants believed to have been involved in the gun and bomb assault in the centre of the capital, which killed at least six.

Indonesian network TVOne said at least three explosions occurred in the Cikni, Silpi and Kuningan neighbourhoods, near the Pakistani and Turkish embassies.

According to the official Jakarta police Twitter account, one explosion went off in front of a shopping centre called the Sarinah mall, on a main city avenue.

A witness claimed to have seen three suicide bombers explode themselves in a Starbucks cafe in the downtown Jakarta area, after which he said two gunmen attacked a police post nearby.

The area is home to many luxury hotels, and offices and embassies, including the French.

A total of at least six blasts has been counted.

A map showing the location of the Pakistani embassy and its proximity to the Sarinah mall area. At least three explosions occurred in neighbourhoods nearby the embassy.
A map showing the location of the Pakistani embassy and its proximity to the Sarinah mall area. At least three explosions occurred in neighbourhoods nearby the embassy.

National police spokesman Anton Charliyan said the explosion near a police post in the area was not a suicide attack.

"This is not a suicide bomb, based on witness account at the police post it was something that was thrown, whether it was a grenade or a bomb we still haven't been able to confirm. Nobody has been arrested," Charliyan said.

He said at least one attacker ─ maybe two ─ fled afterwards, using a motorbike.

Police had earlier said the explosions were caused by bombs.

The first explosion appeared to have triggered a gun-battle between the attackers and anti-terror police squads, and gunfire could be heard more than one hour later

Jakarta police spokesman Col Muhammad Iqbal said seven people including four attackers have been killed in the attacks. He said police have recovered the bodies of the attackers, but it is not clear if more remain at large.

However, national police spokesman Anton Charliyan told AFP: "Four people died, one police officer and three civilians."

Helicopters were circling the area, which had been cordoned off.

'Sniper on the roof'

Officers at the scene of the explosions in the Sarinah mall area told AFP reporters to "get back" because there "is a sniper" on the roof of a building.

"There has been a lull in the shooting but someone is on the roof of the building and police are aiming their guns at him," the Reuters photographer said.

The national police spokesman warned people to stay away, saying police fear there could be more bombs.

"For now the gunfire has stopped but they are still on the run, we are afraid there will be more gunshots," Anton Charliyan said.

Heavily armed police evacuated a badly injured man who was lying on the road bleeding heavily.

Police slowly approached the man and stretchered him into a vehicle, about 25 metres from the severely damaged Starbucks cafe, as shots rang out.

Graphic photographs from the scene showed the bloodied bodies of what appeared to be two men in civilian clothes lying by the side of a road next to the wrecked police post.

Another body, also apparently male, dressed all in black was pictured lying on his back in the centre of the street while another lay nearby.

'Suicide bombers in Starbucks'

Tri Seranto, a bank security guard, told The Associated Press he saw at least five attackers, including three suicide bombers who exploded themselves in the Starbucks.

The Sarinah mall area where blasts and gunfire were reported.
The Sarinah mall area where blasts and gunfire were reported.

He said he was out on the street when he saw the three men entering Starbucks and saw them blowing themselves up one by one.

He said the other two attackers, carrying handguns, entered a police post from where he heard gunfire. He said he later saw one policeman dead and three seriously wounded.

He said he was not injured in the explosions as he was a little distance away, but close enough to witness the attack at 10.30 am.

He said the two gunmen ran away with police chasing them.

"The Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road," a Reuters photographer said.

Security forces were later seen entering the building housing Starbucks.

Starbucks says one customer sustained injuries from an explosion and was treated on the scene while all employees are confirmed to be safe.

The company says in a statement: "We are deeply saddened by the senseless acts that have taken place in Jakarta today; our hearts are with the people of Indonesia."

Starbucks says all stores in Jakarta will remain closed, out of an abundance of caution, until further notice.

'Blast near UN office'

A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) employee Jeremy Douglas tweeted about the incident, saying "a massive bomb went off in front of our new Indonesia office" which is in the Sarinah mall vicinity.

He counted six blasts and said he heard gunfire at the scene. "Serious exchange of fire in downtown Jakarta," he said.

The UN employee claimed to have seen a suicide bomber 100 metres from the UN office and his hotel.

Douglas tweeted photos of what he said were "tactical teams" entering a building in the area.

'Felt like an earthquake'

An eyewitness told AFP he had seen a "terrorist" open fire on a local journalist.

Ruli Koestaman, 32, who had been in a meeting in a nearby building, said the attack started around 10:35am

"Then I heard a loud bang, boom. It felt like an earthquake. We all went downstairs," he said.

"We then saw that the Starbucks downstairs was destroyed too. I saw a foreigner, Westerner, a man, with a mangled hand but alive. A Starbucks waiter then ran out with blood coming out of his ear. And I asked anyone hurt inside, he said yes, one. Dead already. Then everybody gathered and a terrorist appeared. He had a gun and started shooting at us and then at Starbucks. Then the police post... exploded."

Koestaman said the attacker shot at a reporter who was at the scene.

"Police then started to shoot at the guy, who kept reloading his gun. And then there was another explosion. Then shootings."

Pakistan condemns attack

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast near UN office in Jakarta, reported Radio Pakistan.

The premier in his condolence message said the people and government of Pakistan share the pain of Indonesian brethren at this critical moment.

Prime minister said terrorism is common threat to Muslim countries and to fight it is our collective responsibility. He said Pakistan stands firm against every act of terror in the entire world.

The attacks come just weeks after Jakarta was placed on high alert after anti-terror police foiled what they said were plans for an New Year suicide attack in the Indonesian capital.

Indonesian authorities were warned last month of a credible threat, following which the government deployed 150,000 security personnel to safeguard churches, airports and other public places across the country and made a series of pre-emptive arrests.

"This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people," President Jokowi Widodo, said in statement on television.

Jokowi, who is on a working visit in West Java town of Cirebon, said he is returning to Jakarta immediately. "The state, the nation and the people should not be afraid of, and lose to, such terror acts," he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks in Jakarta.

Late last month police said they had arrested two men, including a member of China's Uighur minority, who they claimed were involved in the plot.

After a series of attacks on foreigners in the last decade, Indonesian extremists have in recent years directed their violence towards locals, mostly police.

There have been no attacks against foreigners since the 2009 twin hotel bombings in Jakarta that killed seven people.



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