Indonesia Jumps Suspected Terrorists in New Year Shootout

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Indonesia Jumps Suspected Terrorists in New Year Shootout

Islamic militants have become more active, after a 2011 crackdown.

Indonesia Jumps Suspected Terrorists in New Year Shootout

Umar Patek

Credit: REUTERS/Enny Nuraheni

Authorities in Indonesia foiled another bombing plot and killed six suspected terrorists in a shoot-out that lasted hours over News Year’s Eve on the outskirts of Jakarta. The suspects were believed to have been involved with the previous bombing of an orphanage and a Buddhist temple and had planned an attack on the Myanmar embassy.

The deaths came as the Australian government issued a travel warning stating that the threat of an attack by terrorists in Indonesia was high amid promises that it would share information from its intelligence agencies should any evidence of a planned attack emerge.

The six suspects had also been linked to the shooting of four police officers last year – three died – and they apparently had ties to other terrorist cells, including one operated by Abu Roban who was killed in May amid speculation that several groups were planning a spate of bombings in the lead-up to elections in Indonesia later this year.

One man known as Hidayat was reportedly leading the six, killed in a rented house, and was shot dead in the street after resisting arrest. Police also say they could be linked to Abu Umar, blamed for a spate of bank robberies across Indonesia to help fund terrorist activities.

Six homemade bombs were later found.

“We suspect that [Hidayat] was the leader,” a National Police source told the Jakarta Globe. “After tackling we besieged the house … and we exchanged gunfire for nine hours.”

The firefight lasted till dawn on Wednesday.

Indonesia has battled a low-level push by Islamic militants seeking to re-establish their lost momentum, which effectively fell apart in 2011 following a crackdown on rebels and the arrest of Umar Patek, the last of the Bali bombers, who had remained at large for almost a decade.

Patek had hidden out in the Southern Philippines before travelling back to Pakistan where he attempted to hook-up with old contacts inside al-Qaeda. He was captured on January 25, 2011, near Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was killed three months later.

Since then, Islamic rebels have signaled a shift in strategy which was highlighted 18-months ago by Muhammad Syarif, a 32-year-old who detonated explosives strapped to his body at a mosque inside a police station in Cirebon, West Java. He killed himself, injured 30 others and became the first suicide bomber to strike inside an Indonesian mosque.

Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter at @lukeanthonyhunt.