Jakarta hit by ‘suicide bomb’ attack

Published: Thursday 14th January 2016 by The News Editor

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A massive explosion, said by witnesses to be a suicide bomb attack, has rocked Indonesia’s capital with reports of at least one fatality.

Gunshots were heard after Thursday’s mid-morning explosion in front of Jakarta’s Sarinah shopping mall and a police station. The area also has many luxury hotels, and offices and consulates, including the French embassy.

It was not clear who was shooting and police cordoned off the area. An Associated Press reporter saw at least one dead body.

Witnesses said the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber, but there was no immediate confirmation of the claim.

A United Nations regional representative in Jakarta, Jeremy Douglas, tweeted that an explosion in front of the UN office in the capital was followed by at six other blasts and gunfire.

He said people were warned to stay away from windows.

Indonesia has been a victim of several bombing attacks in the past carried out by Islamic militant groups.

The country has been on high alert after authorities said they had foiled a plot by Islamic militants to attack government officials, foreigners and others. About 150,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed during New Year’s Eve to guard churches, airports and other public places.

More than 9,000 police were also deployed in Bali, the site of Indonesia’s deadliest terror attack, which killed 202 people in 2002.

National Police spokesman Major General Anton Charliyan said security was focused on anticipating attacks in vulnerable regions, including Jakarta.

On Tuesday, jailed radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir appealed to an Indonesia court to have his conviction for funding a terror training camp overturned, arguing that his support for the camp was an act of worship.

The 77-year-old leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network filed a judicial review of his 2011 conviction, when he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for setting up the camp in Aceh province. A higher court later reduced the sentence to nine years.

Published: Thursday 14th January 2016 by The News Editor

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