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IS blamed for Jakarta terror strikes

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UPDATED: Seven people are dead after terror attacks in Jakarta, including three suspected perpetrators, police say.

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Indonesian police suspect links to Islamic State (IS, or ISIS) in the attacks on the capital Jakarta that have claimed at least seven lives, including those responsible.

The attack began with a suicide bomber detonating outside the Starbucks coffee shop on Jl Thamrin, one of the capital’s main roads, around 11am on Thursday.

Three men then attacked the small police post in the traffic island of the busy intersection, Co-ordinating Minister for Security Luhut Panjaitan said.

In total, five attackers and two innocent victims were killed, he said.

National Police spokesman Anton Charliyan told Indonesia’s Metro TV “it’s obviously ISIS,” referring to a threat the group allegedly made to Indonesia after the Paris terror attacks.

National Police Deputy Chief General Budi Gunawan told Kompas TV he believed the attackers were linked to a network that was raided before Christmas.

Intelligence from Australia and the US led Indonesian authorities to an IS-inspired or -linked network that was planning to hit police targets and New Year celebrations in Jakarta.

“We know that two or three perpetrators hadn’t been caught,” he said.

“So this is it.”

Indonesian National Counter-terrorism Agency chief Saud Usman Nasution said he saw similarities with the Paris attacks, but wanted further investigation before making any conclusions about IS involvement.

“The attack on the police post used explosives and there was also shooting,” he said.

“What we saw happen in Paris was like this too. We can’t conclude just yet.”

The attacks took place near the Jakarta office of the UN, where Sandra Siagian counted seven explosions altogether.

“When we heard the explosions go off everyone was panicking and we didn’t know what to do,” she told AAP from Jakarta.

A series of photos by Indonesian news portal Tempo showed that after the blast at the police post, with three victims still laying on the ground, two gunmen appear behind the crowd gathered at the intersection.

Both wearing caps and T-shirts, the men are photographed shooting at police.

Disturbing amateur video provided to TV stations meanwhile appeared to show the suicide bombing outside Starbucks.

Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis offered Jakarta law enforcement and intelligence assistance if needed, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop contacted her counterpart Retno Marsudi to extend support.

Part of the Jl Thamrin intersection reopened to traffic and many curious onlookers at 4.30pm local time, after police declared the situation safe.

President Joko Widodo asked that citizens be calm and unafraid.

“The state, the nation and the people, they, we, can’t be afraid, can’t be defeated by this act of terror,” he told reporters.

The president cut short a visit to West Java to visit the attack site late on Thursday afternoon.

The hashtag “Kami Tidak Takut” – “We are not afraid” – was trending on Twitter as Indonesians expressed their solidarity.

Jakarta was last hit by a terror attack in 2009, when suicide bombers co-ordinated to strike the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels, killing seven people, including three Australians and one New Zealander.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised Australians to exercise “a high degree of caution” in Indonesia, which was no change in the overall threat level before the attacks.

AAP

 

 

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