Bag checks at door as bombed Jakarta cafe reopens

A home-made bomb ripped through the Starbucks coffee joint on Jan 14. The terror attacks in the capital left eight people, including four militants, dead.
A home-made bomb ripped through the Starbucks coffee joint on Jan 14. The terror attacks in the capital left eight people, including four militants, dead.ST PHOTO: FRANCIS CHAN

Starbucks outlet, site of first of several Jakarta blasts, back in business two weeks later

The Starbucks cafe in the Menara Cakrawala building, where a suicide bomber set off the first explosion of the Jan 14 attack in downtown Jakarta, is open for business again.

Its doors opened at 10am yesterday, just two weeks after an exploding home-made bomb ripped through the American coffee joint.

The carpark outside the cafe was also the scene of a violent shootout between the police and two of the four Indonesian attackers.

 
 

The company could not be reached for comment, but customers The Straits Times spoke to at the cafe say they are glad the cafe is open again, albeit with added security.

Two security officers were stationed at the doors to conduct bag checks - a new measure to protect customers and to prevent a repeat of the attack.

Mr Budi, who works at the Sarinah shopping mall just across the road from the cafe, said he refuses to allow the attack by the militants, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, to change the way he lives.

"Coming here for coffee has been a habit of mine for a long time. There is nothing to be afraid of, especially when there is now more security," he said.

Indonesian police have responded swiftly since the attack that took place at the busy intersection in Jalan M.H. Thamrin.

Officers who rushed to the scene managed to neutralise the terrorists within 11 minutes of the first bomb going off. Updates from the police following the attack indicated there were at least six explosions that day.

After the suicide bomber ignited the first bomb outside Starbucks, another militant was killed when the home-made bomb he was carrying went off outside a police post nearby. Two bystanders were also killed.

Investigators are still trying to determine if that was also a suicide attack. An off-duty police officer gunned down one of the remaining terrorists as he was trying to set off a bomb, while the fourth died when a bomb he was carrying exploded, possibly prematurely.

At least 19 suspects have been rounded up by counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 so far.

Correction note: An earlier version of this report said that a Canadian customer of the cafe was killed in the blast. Starbucks, however, has clarified that there were no fatalities involving customers. This was confirmed by the authorities in Jakarta, according to a spokesman of the coffee chain.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline 'Bag checks at door as bombed cafe reopens'. Print Edition | Subscribe