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Indonesia cracks down on terror suspects accused of targeting tourists

Sydney Morning Herald - October 15, 2019

James Massola, Jakarta – Indonesian police have arrested 22 suspected Islamist militants planning attacks across the country, just days after the country's security minister was wounded in a stabbing attack.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said that 22 people were arrested across the country, including in Jakarta and other major cities on the main island of Java and in Bali, which welcomes more than a million Australian tourists every year.

The targets for attacks included popular tourists sites, provincial police stations and even separatists in the province of Papua.

Densus 88, the country's elite counter-terrorism police squadron, had found 10 homemade pipe bombs which could be used for suicide attacks, plus chemicals, guns, knives, phones and jihadist literature in the various raids.

"Police found a lot of evidence at the Bali crime scene such as explosive materials, nails and cables," Dedi said.

"All of them have pledged allegiance to ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] but they are from different local terror groups," he said, including such as JAD, or Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, which carried out Thursday's attack on minister Wiranto and the MIT, or Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen.

The arrests in Bali came just hours after Wiranto was attacked. Police arrested a man and his 14-year-old son accused of planning to make a bomb to attack local police.

Indonesia Institute president Ross Taylor said the arrest of the men in Bali, which happened on the eve of the 17th anniversary of the 2002 Bali bombing, demonstrated the increased capabilities of Indonesian police.

"Since the Bali bombings in 2002, the Indonesian police, often supported by the Australian Federal Police, have vastly improved their intelligence and anti-terrorism activities," he said.

Bali was now safer and more secure than in 2002, Taylor said "and that is good news for Australian tourists, but caution and vigilance should always be a priority".

Dedi said police continued to hunt other suspected militants, many of whom are participants in a social media chat group on the Telegram app that the man who attacked Wiranto also belonged to.

Indonesia has carried out a sustained crackdown on Islamic militants since bombings on Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

But new threats have emerged in recent times from Islamic State group-inspired radicals who have targeted security forces and local "infidels" instead of Westerners.

– With agencies

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/indonesia-cracks-down-on-terror-suspects-accused-of-targeting-tourists-20191015-p530wc.html