World

Police tighten security in Jakarta after foiled terror plot

JAKARTA Indonesian police yesterday ramped up security in Jakarta after foiling a plot by Islamist militants to use a female suicide bomber to attack the country's Presidential Palace.

Investigators said the suspects who planned the attack are believed to be part of the same network as Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian extremist operating out of Syria, whom police believe had orchestrated previous attacks in the city in January that left four bystanders and four attackers dead, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Jakarta Police spokesman Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said police are closely watching government offices, shopping malls and department stores, in addition to other public spaces that normally attract crowds during the weekend.

"We want to stay alert… while monitoring further updates from the Densus 88," Mr Yuwono said, referring to the country's top anti-terror squad.

Four suspected militants were arrested and a bomb safely detonated on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital on Saturday, police said.

"We suspect the target was a vital location in central Jakarta," national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told Metro TV.

A woman was arrested in a boarding house where the 3kg bomb, encased in a pressure cooker, was discovered, while two men were arrested in a separate location in Jakarta, AFP reported.

A fourth person, a man believed to be the bomb-maker, was arrested in central Java island, according to police.

The arrested woman had planned to strike at Istana Merdeka in Jakarta yesterday, The Straits Times reported.

Istana Merdeka is a building within the Presidential Palace compound in Jakarta, where President Joko Widodo receives visiting heads of states and holds meetings with his Cabinet.

The woman has been identified with only the initials DYN. She is 27 years old.

Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono told reporters yesterday that DYN, whom he referred to as a "pengantin", had sent a farewell letter to her family.

"The police managed to intercept her letter to her parents," said Colonel Awi.

Pengantin means bride in Bahasa Indonesia, but is widely used among militants to describe martyrs.

Colonel Awi added that the bomb was brought to DYN in Bekasi from Solo, in central Java, by two male suspects, MNS and AS.

Both men were nabbed by Densus 88 along an overpass in Kalimalang, an area in east Jakarta, on Saturday at 3.40pm, 10 minutes before another operation was carried out at a lodging house in Bekasi, to arrest DYN.

The bomb was seized by Densus 88 in a room in the lodging house located in Bintara Jaya, a residential area in Bekasi, located about an hour's drive from Jakarta - and where the three suspects have been staying for the last week or so.

- WALL STREET JOURNAL, AFP, THE STRAITS TIMES

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