Jakarta, Indonesia, has been hit by a series of bomb blasts in what police are calling a terrorist attack, according to reports from CNN. The first of a series of explosions took place when a suicide bomber blew himself up at 10:55 AM at a local Starbucks in the capital city.
Two other attackers were standing outside that Starbucks, and they seized two foreigners, a Dutch citizen and an Algerian citizen, before opening fire on people on the street and dragging the two people to a parking lot where they shot them. The Dutch citizen died. Officials are trying to reach his family. The Algerian was injured. Jakarta police opened fire on the two attackers, who responded with hand grenades. A few minutes later, two more suicide bombers on motorcycles blew themselves up as they rode toward police at a mall. Police spokesman Anton Charliyan told CNN that there were a total of five explosions and that they also found five unexploded bombs and two pistols in the area. Jakarta police are searching for other suspects in the attack.
Jakarta police state that they received information in late November indicating that “there will be a concert” in Indonesia, meaning there would be an attack, according to a report from the New York Times. Nine individuals were arrested in connection with that threat. In addition to the two hostages, 20 other people were injured in the blasts.
The attack took place in the heart of Jakarta, near a busy shopping center, the Sarinah Thamrin Plaza. There are several western chains in the area.
There have also been reports of a traffic police post at a major Jakarta intersection suffering major damage. Officials have obtained video of a series of blasts across the street from the post, near the Starbucks and a Burger King. The U.N. Embassy in Jakarta has issued a warning to Americans to avoid the area. There are also reports that one of the explosions took place near the United Nations building in Jakarta.
The majority of Indonesian citizens are Muslim, but Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists in the country also have a great deal of influence. It’s speculated that the secular government of this mostly-Muslim country made it a target for this attack. Jakarta has experienced attacks by Islamist terrorists previously in Bali as well as in Jakarta. Jakarta has also been the target of a splinter Al Qaeda group, Jemaah Islamiyah, in recent years. Jemaah Islamiyah was a group from Southeast Asia and no longer exists. Several other Al-Qaeda splinter groups have formed to take its place, however.
Indonesian President Joko issued this statement regarding the Jakarta attacks, according to the Guardian.
“Our nation and our people should not be afraid, we will not be defeated by these acts of terror…. 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.”
Regarding the Jakarta attacks, at about 6:00 this morning a source told the Aamaq news agency, who is affiliated with the Islamic State group, that:
“… fighters from the Islamic State carried out this morning an armed attack that targeted foreigners and the security forces tasked with protecting them in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.”
Police are comparing the manner in which this attack in Jakarta was carried out to the Paris attacks. They declared that they had regained control of the area around 2:30 p.m. Jakarta time, about five hours after the attacks.
There is concern about the return of Indonesians who have fought in Syria and Iraq. The East Indonesian Mujahadeen has been the target of recent military operations. It is headed by the most wanted terrorist in Indonesia, Santoso, who has pledged support for ISIS.
[Photo courtesy of Dita Alangkara/Associated Press]