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Islamic State militants attack Jakarta in first strike at Indonesia

Indonesian police hold rifles while walking behind a car for protection in Jakarta January 14, 2016. Several explosions went off and gunfire broke out in the center of the Indonesian capital on Thursday and police said they suspected a suicide bomber was responsible for at least one the blasts. REUTERS/Beawiharta

BY KANUPRIYA KAPOOR AND DARREN WHITESIDE | REUTERS

Indonesia blamed Islamic State for an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday that brought the radical group’s violence to the world’s most populous Muslim country for the first time.

Just seven people were killed despite multiple blasts and a gunfight, and five of them were the attackers themselves, but the brazenness of their siege suggested a new brand of militancy in a country where low-level strikes on police are common.

It took security forces about three hours to end the attack near a Starbucks cafe and Sarinah’s, Jakarta’s oldest department store, after a team of at least seven militants traded gunfire with police and blew themselves up.

An Indonesian and a Canadian were killed in the attack and 20 people, including a Dutchman who works for the United Nations Environment Program, were wounded.

Two of the militants were taken alive, police said.

“Islamic State fighters carried out an armed attack this morning targeting foreign nationals and the security forces charged with protecting them in the Indonesian capital,” Aamaaq news agency, which is allied to the group, said on its Telegram channel.

Jakarta’s police chief told reporters: “ISIS is behind this attack definitely,” using a common acronym for Islamic State, and he named an Indonesian militant called Bahrun Naim as the man responsible for plotting it.

Police believe Naim is in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The drama played out on the streets and on television screens, with at least six explosions and a gunfight in a movie theater. But the low death toll pointed to the involvement of local militants whose weapons were rudimentary, experts said.

Get the rest at Reuters

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