Christmas bomb plot foiled in Indonesia

Jakarta: Indonesian police have foiled plans by an IS-linked group for a Christmas-time suicide bombing after killing three suspected militants on Wednesday and discovering a cache of bombs, authorities said.
A firefight erupted at a house in South Tangerang 25 km west of the capital Jakarta, with police saying the alleged militants had opened fire at officers.
“We asked the three men to surrender but they fought, with one of them throwing a bomb at officers. Thankfully the bomb didn’t explode and we took firm action against them,” said national police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name.
He said the group to which the three belong, which is linked to the IS group, had planned to stab a police officer at a police station and wait for crowds to gather before launching a suicide bomb attack around the Christmas holidays.
The targeted location is near a private hospital west of Jakarta, police added.
Bomb squad officers in protective gear have so far detonated six bombs seized from the house and more are expected to be blown up before investigators can enter the building. Police have yet to disclose the total number of bombs discovered.
The plot was disclosed by a group member who was arrested earlier on Wednesday and tipped off police about the three militants and their whereabouts, police said.
The raid came less than two weeks after police arrested four militants including a female suicide bomber in Bekasi east of Jakarta. They were plotting to bomb one of the guard posts at the presidential palace.
Police said the men in South Tangerang have links to the Bekasi group and to Bahrun Naim, a leading Indonesian militant fighting with IS in Syria who was allegedly responsible for several botched assaults in his homeland.
“These groups are linked to ISIS. Some recruit, some donate, some assemble the bombs and some carried out the attack,” another national police spokesman Martinus Sitompul said, using another acronym for IS.
A security analyst said Indonesians fighting for IS in Syria appeared to have designated the Philippines the safe house for IS-related groups in the region. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, had become the main target of terror attacks. “Indonesia is easier to be a target because the militants think it’s easier here. Law enforcement is weak and it’s easy to get a fake ID,” analyst Al Chaidar said. — AFP