Attacks at bustling downtown Starbucks imitated recent attacks in Paris, police spokesman suggests
A Canadian was reportedly one of two civilians killed Thursday when attackers set off explosions and waged gunbattles with police at a Starbucks café in a bustling shopping area in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
Reuters, citing an unidentified police source, said a Canadian and an Indonesian police officer were killed in the attacks. Indonesian news outlet Metro TV News also cited a senior police officer saying a Canadian man was killed.
Global Affairs Canada (formerly DFAIT) was aware of the reports, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said in an email to CBC News.
“The department has been informed by Indonesian authorities that a Canadian citizen was killed during the Jakarta attack. Canadian consular officials in Jakarta are working with local authorities to verify this information, which is not yet confirmed,” the statement said.
“Minister Dion’s thoughts and deepest sympathies are with those affected by attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia.”
Police said all five attackers were killed Thursday, while at least 17 people were injured in the brazen attacks, which followed several warnings in recent weeks by police that Islamic militants were planning something big.
When the area was finally secured a few hours later, bodies were sprawled on sidewalks. But given the firepower the attackers carried — handguns, grenades and homemade bombs — and the soft targets they picked in a bustling, crowded area, the casualties were relatively few compared to the mayhem and carnage caused by the Paris attacks.
“We have identified all attackers … we can say that the attackers were affiliated with the ISIS group,” national police spokesman Maj.-Gen. Anton Charilyan told reporters, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. But the Aamaq news agency, which is affiliated with the ISIS, quoted an unnamed source as saying the group carried out the violence.
The news agency has been used as a source on the ISIS militants in the past.
It was the first major attack in Indonesia’s capital since the 2009 bombings of two hotels that killed seven people and injured more than 50. Before that, bombings at nightclubs on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.
6 homemade bombs found
Jakarta police chief Maj.-Gen. Tito Karnavian told a news conference that the first suicide bombing happened at a Starbucks restaurant, causing customers to run out. Outside, two gunmen opened fire, killing the Canadian and wounding an Indonesian, he said.
A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman in the Netherlands said a Dutch man was seriously injured and was undergoing surgery.
At about the same time two other suicide bombers attacked a nearby traffic police booth, killing themselves and an Indonesian man. Karnavian said that minutes later, a group of policemen was attacked by the remaining two gunmen, using homemade bombs. This led to a 15-minute gunfight in which both attackers were killed, he said.
Police then combed the building housing the Starbucks and another nearby building where they discovered six homemade bombs — five small ones and a big one.
“So we think … their plan was to attack people and follow it up with a larger explosion when more people gathered. But thank God it didn’t happen,” Charilyan said.
Charilyan said police had received information in late November about a warning from the ISIS that “there will be a concert” in Indonesia, meaning an attack.
Thursday’s attack prompted a security lockdown in central Jakarta and enhanced checks all over the crowded city of 10 million. Thamarin Street is home to many luxury hotels, high-rise office buildings and embassies, including the French. The U.S. embassy is also nearby.
“This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people,” President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, said in a statement on television. Jokowi, who was in the West Java town of Cirebon, said he was returning to Jakarta immediately.
“The state, the nation and the people should not be afraid of, and be defeated by, 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 police spokesman Charilyan denied they blew themselves up.
Canadian witness describes attack
Tweets from the account of Jeremy Douglas, a Canadian who is regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, described a bomb and “serious” exchanges of gunfire on the street outside his Jakarta office.
Douglas was about 100 metres away from one of the explosions, as his car was pulling up to the UN building.
“As I stepped out of the car, the second suicide bomber blew himself up,” he told CBC News, calling it a “pretty big explosion.”
Douglas said he quickly ducked into his building, trying to reach the 10th floor where his colleagues were locked down.
He heard another blast.
“Then there was a series of explosions. I myself heard five,” he said. “And then we heard small arms fire in the street in front of the UN.”
Douglas said one of his European colleagues was in a Starbucks at the time of the attack and suffered serious injuries to his leg.
Last month, anti-terror police arrested nine suspected militants and said they had planned attacks “to attract international news coverage of their existence here.”
The country has been on high alert after authorities said they foiled a plot by Islamic militants to attack government officials, foreigners and others. About 150,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed on New Year’s Eve to guard churches, airports and other public places. More than 9,000 police were also deployed in Bali.
On Tuesday, jailed radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir appealed to a court to have his conviction for funding a terror training camp overturned, arguing that his support for the camp was an act of worship.
The 77-year-old leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant network filed a judicial review of his 2011 conviction, when he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for setting up the camp in Aceh province. A higher court later cut the sentence to nine years.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has suffered a spate of deadly attacks blamed on the Jemaah Islamiyah network in the past. But militant strikes in recent years have been smaller and less deadly, and have targeted government authorities, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces.
Courtesy of The Associated Press Posted: Jan 13, 2016 11:46 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 14, 2016 9:04 AM ET
With files from CBC News and Reuters