JAKARTA: Indonesian police said yesterday they had arrested 10 suspected members of Jemaah Islamiah, the al-Qaeda-linked militant Islamic group blamed for last year's Bali bombings.
The men were suspected of being involved in a series of church bombings across Indonesia on Christmas Eve 2000 which left 19 people dead, as well as five smaller earlier bombings, Chief Detective Lt Gen. Erwin Mapasseng said.
He said the men's “controller'' at the time of the 2000 bombings was Riduan Isamuddin, or Hambali, the alleged ex-operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah, who is still at large and believed to be Osama bin Laden's point man in Southeast Asia.
Hambali is alleged to have ordered other members of Jemaah Islamiah to carry out the bombings of two nightclubs on Bali island on Oct 12 in which 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, died.
Mapasseng did not say when the men allegedly last had contact with Hambali.
Thirty-four suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members have been arrested in connection with the Bali bombings.
Three are currently on trial for their alleged involvement. Scores of other suspected members of the group have been arrested in Indonesia in connection with other attacks.
The latest arrests were made between June 12 and June 16 in towns and cities throughout Sumatra island, Mapasseng said.
He said the men were also believed to have been involved in a bank robbery in Medan city, on Sumatra, on May 6 in which three people were killed.
Mapasseng said the detainees had justified their actions by saying they were “in a war situation.''
None of the 10, who are being detained in Medan, has been charged.
They were arrested in possession of weapons, he added.
Jemaah Islamiah seeks to create an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.
It allegedly planned a series of attacks on Western interests in the region and has been blamed for other bombings in Indonesia.
Scores of suspected group members have been arrested in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. – AP
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