Brazen Jakarta attacks leave 7 dead

AP January 15,2016 - 09:13 AM
An armed man walks on Thamrin Street near Sarinah shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia as people scamper for safety in this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency. (AP PHOTO)

An armed man walks on Thamrin Street near Sarinah shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia as people scamper for safety in this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency. (AP PHOTO)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area of downtown Jakarta and waged gun-battles with police yesterday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows.

There were unconfirmed media reports of explosions in other parts of Jakarta.

Police said four of the attackers and three others were killed in the brazen attacks, which came after several warnings in recent weeks by the police that Islamic militants were planning something big. It was unclear if other perpetrators remained at large.

It was the first major violence in Indonesia’s capital since the 2009 bombings of two hotels that killed seven people and injured more than 50. Before that, a bombing in a nightclub on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

No one has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attacks, which took place in front of the Sarinah shopping mall on Thamrin Street that prompted a security lockdown in central Jakarta and enhanced checks all over the crowded city of 10 million.

“This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people,” President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, said in statement on television. Jokowi, who is on a working visit in West Java town of Cirebon, said he is returning to Jakarta immediately.

“The state, the nation and the people should not be afraid of, and lose to, such terror acts,” he said.

Tri Seranto, a bank security guard, told The Associated Press he saw at least five attackers, including three who triggered explosions at the Starbucks. It was not immediately clear if they exploded bombs or grenades.

Tri described them as suicide bombers but Gen. Anton Charilyan, a spokesman for the national police, denied they blew themselves up.

He said the attack involved an unknown number of assailants with grenades and guns, at least one on a motorcycle. He said three civilians were killed. Later, Jakarta police spokesman Col. Muhammad Iqbal said four of the attackers were killed, and their bodies retrieved.

Tri said he was out on the street when he saw the three men entering Starbucks. He said the other two attackers, carrying handguns, entered a police post from where he heard gunfire.

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