Islamic State group backers have circulated a claim of responsibility for the Indonesian suicide attacks resembling the extremist group’s previous messages.
The claim was shared on Twitter late Thursday. The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group said it also circulated among pro-Islamic State groups on the message app Telegram. This marks the first time the radical group’s violence was brought to the world’s most populous Muslim country.
A police post in the middle of Jakarta’s main street was destroyed. The attackers targeted an area near a Starbucks cafe and Sarinah’s, Jakarta’s oldest department store.
Here’s a brief account of what happened according to police and a witness:
— At about 10:50 a.m. (0450 GMT), a suicide bomber walked into a Starbucks and set off his explosives. He was the only person killed in the blast. The cafe is close to some U.N. offices and a shopping center on Thamrin Street, a major thoroughfare home to many luxury hotels, high-rise office buildings, and embassies.
— As customers ran out, two gunmen outside opened fire, killing a Canadian man and wounding an Indonesian. A witness, Guruh Purwanto, said the gunmen then ran into a nearby theater.
— At about the same time, two other suicide bombers attacked a traffic police booth nearby, killing themselves and an Indonesian man.
— Minutes later, the two gunmen attacked a group of policemen, sparking a gunbattle that lasted about 15 minutes and ended with both attackers dead. Purwanto said the two attackers blew themselves up.
It took security forces about three hours to end the attack after a team of at least seven militants traded gunfire with police and blew themselves up.
Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavia said Islamic State were to blame.
“The gang behind the attack is fighters from IS (Islamic State) that is based in Raqqa,” he told a news conference.
He named an Indonesian militant called Bahrun Naim as the mastermind behind the attack.
“The IS cell in Southeast Asia includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and others. In Southeast Asia, there’s a militant named Bahrun Naim who wants to be the leader of the region. As a way of taking over the leadership, he declared his leadership in the southern Philippines. All leaders (of IS) in Southeast Asia are competing to be the chief. That’s why Bahrun Naim plotted this attack,” he said.
Police believe Naim is in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
An Indonesian and a Canadian were killed in the attack and 20 people, including a Dutchman who works for the United Nations Environment Programme, were wounded.
Indonesia has seen attacks by Islamist militants before, but a coordinated assault by a team of suicide bombers and gunmen is unprecedented and has echoes of the sieges seen in Mumbai seven years ago and in Paris last November.
Story by the Associated Press, Reuters, and CCTV NEWS.