IS sympathiser behind Indonesia police headquarters attack: official

Police personnel set up security checks ahead of Easter outside a church in Solo on April 1, 2021, following the March 28 suicide bombing at a cathedral in Makassar. - AFP

JAKARTA (AFP): An armed woman shot dead at Indonesia's national police headquarters Wednesday (March 31) was an Islamic State sympathiser, authorities said, citing social media posts she made shortly before the fatal gun battle.

Indonesia has been on high alert in recent days after two suicide bombers -- alleged members of a pro-IS extremist group -- blew themselves up at a church in Makassar city on Sulawesi island, wounding about 20 people.

Police outposts have been frequent targets of Indonesian extremists in the past.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 25-year-old woman wearing a niqab face veil and a long black gown entered the police complex in downtown Jakarta and opened fire on officers at the entrance, authorities said.

Images broadcast by local media showed the woman fall to the ground as shots rang out, before lying motionless as police surrounded her body.

"She was a lone wolf who supported the IS ideology and this has been proven by her social media posts," chief of the Indonesian National Police Listyo Sigit Prabowo told reporters Wednesday evening.

Authorities said they had identified the woman as a university dropout who had left a suicide note at her family home in Jakarta, which they raided after the shootout.

She had posted the IS flag and writings about becoming a martyr on a recently created Instagram account, Prabowo said.

Authorities would probe whether the woman had links to Muslim majority Indonesia's myriad extremist groups.

The country, which has long struggled with attacks by Islamist militants including the 2002 Bali bombings, has been on edge after the weekend cathedral attack.

A newlywed couple who belonged to pro-Islamic State extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was behind the cathedral blast, police have said.

More than a dozen others suspected in the plot have been arrested in recent days.

The couple were members of an Islamic study group along with several of the other suspects, police said.

Sunday's explosion at the main Catholic cathedral in Makassar took place just after congregants finished celebrating Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week in the run-up to Easter Sunday.

The attack came after the arrest of dozens of suspected militants in recent months by Indonesia's counter-terror squad.

Indonesia's security forces regularly arrest suspected militants and attacks have often been low-level and have targeted domestic security forces.

Before Sunday, one of the country's last major deadly attacks was in 2018, when a dozen people were killed after a family of suicide bombers blew themselves up at churches during Sunday services in Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya.

The family -- including two daughters, aged nine and 12 -- and another family of five, which carried out the suicide bombing of a police headquarters, all belonged to the same Koran study group and were linked to JAD, which has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.

Formed in 2015, JAD gained notoriety the following year for a gun and suicide bomb attack in the capital Jakarta that killed four civilians and four attackers -- including one who blew himself up at a Starbucks outlet.

It was the first attack claimed by IS in Southeast Asia.

JAD was also implicated in a 2019 cathedral suicide bombing in the Philippines committed by a married Indonesian couple which killed worshippers and security forces.

Indonesia's deadliest terror attack was the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, which killed more than 200 people, mainly foreign tourists.

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Indonesia , woman , Islamic , state , shootout , police , station , sympathiser , dead


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