According to a CNN report this morning, in a brazen midday assault, a team of well-armed militants detonated explosives and opened fire Thursday in the heart of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. When it was over, two people were dead and 19 more wounded, police said.
Five of the attackers were also killed. A manhunt is underway for additional suspects.
According to CNN, conflicting information emerged in the aftermath of the attacks, with some officials putting the number of dead as high as six. So far there have been no claims of responsibility, but one analyst likened the attacks to the November 13 Paris massacre in which terrorists linked to ISIS struck several locations at the same time.
Police spokesman Anton Charliyan said it’s believed the attackers in Jakarta were targeting foreigners and the police, and are likely affiliated with ISIS.
Among the dead was at least one foreign national, authorities said. Nineteen people, including another foreigner, were injured, Charliyan said.
“A Dutch national has been severely injured and is now undergoing surgery at a hospital in Jakarta,” Angele Samura, the security adviser for the Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta, told CNN.
CNN is reported that the assault began late Thursday morning on Thamrin Street, an entertainment and shopping district with various Western chain restaurants and stores. It was the first major attack in Jakarta since the 2009 simultaneous attacks on the J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels, which left seven people dead.
It started with an explosion as an attacker blew himself up at a Starbucks, according to Charliyan. At the same time, two gunmen opened fire outside the coffee shop, shooting people on the street.
Heavily armed police were soon on the scene, firing on the militants and looking for other attackers. A police post is located nearby. The attackers responded with grenades and fired back, the police spokesman said.
Echoes of Paris
CNN security analyst Bob Baer said the attack bears the signature of ISIS.
It “sounds like the Paris attack to me,” Baer said. A lot of these fighters are getting combat experience in Iraq and Syria and many of them have experience handling and detonating explosives, he added.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world but it has a secular government. That’s made it a ripe target for extremists. And ISIS’ high-profile extremism has gained it a small following there.
On Thursday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the nation will remain unbowed after the attacks. “We should not be afraid and defeated by acts of terror like this,” he said. (Excerpts from CNN)