Three arrested in Jakarta

Indonesia’s authorities impressed analysts with their fast response. Source: Wikimedia

Indonesian police have arrested three men suspected of having links to the coordinated bomb and gun attacks that rocked central Jakarta on Thursday, leaving seven people dead. Five of the dead were the attackers.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault in what would be the first time the group has successfully targeted the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Jakarta’s police chief, Tito Karnavian, said Indonesia needed to strengthen its response and implement preventive measures.

“We need to pay very serious attention to the rise of Isis,” he told a press conference held at the site of the attacks.

“We hope our counterparts in other countries can work together because it is not home-grown terrorism, it is part of the Isis network.”

But Karnavian said an Indonesian militant, Bahrun Naim, was the ringleader of the attacks.

“We were informed by intelligence that an individual named Bahrun Naim … instructed his cells in Indonesia to mount an attack,” Karnavian said. “His vision is to unite all Isis supporting elements in south-east Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.”

Naim is thought to be in the Syrian city of Raqqa with Isis.

He was convicted in 2011 for possession of ammunition although the court found insufficient evidence to pursue terrorism charges.

Security analysts said Thursday’s strikes appeared to be relatively incompetent because of the low death toll. A police officer and a Canadian-Algerian were the only victims of the attackers, police said.

A total of 24 people were seriously wounded, including an Austrian, a German and Dutchman.

Some embassies in Jakarta were closed for the day and security was increased on the tourist island of Bali.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who was in Jakarta recently to strengthen security ties with Indonesia, told The Australian newspaper that he had “no doubt” Islamic State was seeking to establish a “distant caliphate” in the archipelago.

“A group of soldiers of the caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the crusader alliance,” Isis statement said.

Asean’s governments have waged largely effective campaigns against militant groups but claim to be increasingly worried by the apparently global rise of Isis.

The Philippines went on “heightened alert” at transport hubs and malls. Four Islamist groups in the southern Philippine islands have recently pledged allegiance to Isis.

In Malaysia, police stepped up security with the inspector-general of police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, saying the authorities were on “alert to the highest degree”.