Indonesia foils militants' dirty bomb plot

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JAKARTA: Indonesian militants had planned to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, security sources said, highlighting the rising ambitions of extremists to wreak destruction in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. But experts cast doubt on their expertise, equipment and chances of success.

The plot was foiled when police raided homes and arrested five suspects in Bandung, West Java, last week, sources said.

After the raids, the police spoke of a plan to explode a "chemical" bomb but provided no other details.

The plot comes as Indonesia grapples with an influx of militants deported from other countries and the fallout from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-led siege in the southern Philippines city of Marawi, which regional leaders and analysts worry has energised militants across South-east Asia

The sources said the militants had hoped to transform low-grade radioactive thorium 232 into deadly uranium 233.

The highly radioactive uranium would be combined with the powerful home-made explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) to create a "nuclear bomb", according to an instruction manual used by the militants.

In fact, the device would be, at best, a radiological dispersal device or dirty bomb that could spray radioactive material when the conventional bomb exploded.

A spokesman for Indonesia's national police, Inspector General Setyo Wasisto, declined to confirm or deny the plot to construct the device, but said it would have been more potent than the two bombs made from TATP that killed three policemen in Jakarta in May- REUTERS.