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3 Arrested over Jakarta Suicide Attack | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police investigate the scene of an explosion at a bus station in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, Indonesia. (Reuters)

Indonesia has arrested three suspects linked to Wednesday’s twin bus suicide bombings in the capital Jakarta that was claimed by the ISIS terrorist group, an official announced on Friday.

The elite anti-terror squad working with regular police Thursday detained two men in Bandung on Java island and a third in the nearby area of Cimahi, and their houses were now being searched, said local police spokesman Yusri Yunus.

“We arrested three people in connection with the bombing, in three different locations yesterday afternoon,” he told AFP.

Three policemen were killed, while 12 other officers and civilians were injured in the assault at the Kampung Melayu terminal.

The bombers attacked the busy terminal in the capital late Wednesday in a dramatic assault that sparked panic and left human body parts and shattered glass strewn across the street.

The houses of the two suspected bombers are in the same area and had already been raided by authorities, who found extremist teaching materials and bladed weapons.

Yunus would not reveal how the men arrested Thursday were suspected of being involved in the attack, saying only that authorities were led to the trio by witness testimony.

ISIS claimed responsibility through its propaganda agency Amaq, according to a statement carried by Site Intelligence Group late Thursday. Analysts have pointed the finger at local ISIS-linked group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has been blamed for recent attacks.

The bus station bombing was the deadliest attack in Indonesia since January 2016, when a suicide blast and gun assault claimed by ISIS in downtown Jakarta left four attackers and four civilians dead.

After visiting the site of Wednesday’s attacks, President Joko Widodo said Indonesia needed to accelerate plans to strengthen anti-terrorism laws to prevent new attacks.

“If we make a comparison with other countries, they already have regulations to allow authorities to prevent (attacks) before they happen,” Widodo told a news conference.

The president said he had ordered the chief security minister to get the revisions done as soon as possible.

Long-standing plans to reform Indonesia’s 2003 anti-terrorism laws have been held up by opposition from some parties in parliament and concerns about individual rights.

The revisions would broaden the definition of terrorism and give police the power to detain suspects without trial for longer. The changes would allow police to arrest people for hate speech or for spreading radical content, as well as those taking part in para-military training or joining proscribed groups.

Muhammad Syafi’i of the opposition Gerindra party, who chairs a committee deliberating the bill, said discussions should be completed this year but there were still outstanding issues such as ensuring checks and balances on the counter-terrorism agency.

“This bill needs to be discussed in a cautious and comprehensive way because the purpose of all regulations in this country is to ensure they do not result in the slaughter of Indonesian people, … but protect them,” Syafi’i told Reuters.

Police say bombs used in Wednesday’s attacks were made from pressure cookers, similar to a device used in an attack by a JAD militant in Bandung in February.

In that assault, police shot dead the attacker after he allegedly set off a small bomb in a park and then stormed a local government office. No one else was hurt.

JAD was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in January, which said the network was an umbrella group for about two dozen extremist outfits.

Some have pointed the finger at the group for carrying out last year’s Jakarta attack.