JAKARTA: Terrorist group Islamic State (IS) is “definitely” behind the attack on Indonesia’s capital, the Jakarta police chief said on Thursday.
“ISIS is behind this attack definitely,” Tito Karnavian told reporters.
Karnavian said Indonesian Islamic State fighter Bahrun Naim, who is believed to be in Syria, was “planning this for awhile. He is behind this attack.”
Militants launched a gun and bomb assault killing at least seven people in the centre of the Indonesian capital on Thursday, police said, in an attack that followed a threat by Islamic State fighters to put the country in their “spotlight”.
Media said six bombs went off and a Reuters witness saw three dead people and a gunfight going on. One blast was in a Starbucks cafe and security forces were later seen entering the building.
Police said they suspected a suicide bomber was responsible for at least one of the blasts and up to 14 militant gunmen were involved in the attack, Metro TV reported.
“The Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road. 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,” said a Reuters photographer.
Indonesia has been on edge in recent weeks over the threat posed by Islamist militants and counter-terrorism police have launched a crackdown on people with suspected links to Islamic State.
“We have previously received a threat from Islamic State that Indonesia will be the spotlight,” police spokesperson Anton Charliyan told reporters. But he said police did not know who was resposible.
He said three policemen and three civilians had been killed. “I saw a police officer shot right in front of me,” one witness told TV One.
One explosion went off in front of a shopping centre called the Sarinah mall, on a main avenue. Media said a police post outside the mall was blown up.
Police snipers were deployed among hundreds of other security officers.
A UN building near the scene was in lock-down with no one allowed in or out, a witness said. Some other high-rise buildings in the area were evacuated.
Indonesia’s central bank is located in the same area, and a spokesperson for the bank said a policy meeting was going ahead and a decision on interest rates would be announced as planned later in the day.
An explosion was heard in the western suburb of Palmerah, according to a domestic media tweet, but police said they could not confirm a blast there.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, the vast majority of whom practise a moderate form of the religion. The country saw a spate of militant attacks in the 2000s, the deadliest of which was a nightclub bombing on the holiday island of Bali that killed 202 people, most of them tourists.
Police have been largely successful in destroying domestic militant cells since then, but officials have more recently been worrying about a resurgence inspired by groups such as Islamic State and Indonesians who return after fighting with the group.
The last major militant attacks in Jakarta were in July 2009, with bombs at the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels.
Indonesian president calls Jakarta blasts ‘acts of terror’
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has termed the Jakarta blasts “acts of terror”.
“Our nation and our people should not be afraid, we will not be defeated by these acts of terror, I hope the public stay calm,” he said on TV station MetroTV.
“We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people,” Widodo added.
PM Nawaz condemns blast near UN office in Jakarta
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the blast near a United Nations office in the Indonesian capital, a statement issued by the prime minister’s office said on Thursday.
Expressing immense grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives, PM Nawaz said, “The people and the government of Pakistan share the pain of Indonesian brethren at this critical moment.”
“The terrorism is common threat to Muslim countries and to fight it is our collective responsibility. Pakistan stand firm against every act of terror in the entire world,” the statement added.
No indication Islamic State behind Indonesia attack: intelligence chief
There were no indications that Islamic State militants were behind the attack in Jakarta, the head of the national intelligence agency told Reuters on Thursday.
“This is definitely terrorism but there are no indications yet that it’s ISIS related,” said Sutiyoso.
The Indonesian police, however, claimed that the Islamic State group had issued a cryptic warning before multiple blasts hit Jakarta on Thursday.
National police spokesperson Anton Charliyan said it was not clear yet which group had carried out the attacks. But he said that IS issued a cryptic warning before the attacks. “The warning said there will be a concert in Indonesia and it will be international news,” he told a local radio station.
He did not give any further details, or say when the warning was issued. Police foiled several terror plots in Indonesia last month, with some believed to be linked to IS. Hundreds of Indonesians are feared to have joined the extremist group, which has taken over vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Four suspected attackers dead in Jakarta, area being secured: police
Indonesian police shot dead four suspected militants who were part of a bomb and gun attack in the capital, Jakarta, on Thursday and the area is being secured, a police spokesperson said.
“We are sterilising the building from basement to top,” Iqbal Kabid told reporters, explaining that a gunbattle between the attackers and police took place in a cinema that is in the same building as a Starbucks cafe that was attacked. “We will declare the situation secure soon,” he said.
One Dutch citizen injured in Jakarta attack, says official
One Dutch citizen has been seriously wounded in the attacks in Jakarta, the Dutch foreign ministry said on Thursday, condemning the incident in the country’s former colony.
The ministry could not confirm reports by Indonesian security officials that one Dutch national had been killed in the series of explosions and gunfire that tore through parts of Jakarta leaving at least seven dead.
“So far, one Dutch man has been seriously injured,” the Dutch foreign ministry said in a statement issued in The Hague. “The Dutch embassy is in contact with local authorities to see if there are any Dutch victims,” it added.
The identity of the injured man was not revealed, and it was unclear whether the ministry and the Indonesian security forces were talking about the same person.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders condemned the attacks, calling for international solidarity in the fight against to terror groups. “It’s exactly the type of fear that terrorists want to sow. We have to be just as determined” to stop them, Koenders stressed.
The Dutch embassy has warned nationals to stay indoors in Jakarta and said it would stay in contact by sending text messages with updates on the situation. Indonesia won independence from the Netherlands in 1949 following an armed struggle waged after World War II.