Indonesian police arrest man allegedly planning attack on church on New Year's Eve

Indonesian Police officers stand guard during New Year's Eve celebrations in Jakarta.
Indonesian Police officers stand guard during New Year's Eve celebrations in Jakarta.PHOTO: EPA

PALU - Indonesian police have arrested a man who was allegedly planning to attack a church in Palu in Central Sulawesi on New Year's Eve, the Jakarta Globe reported.

The man, identified as Irwanto, or Abu Muhammad, 30, was arrested during a raid by anti-terror unit Densus 88 on Jalan Bali in North Lolu, a village in East Palu, on Saturday at around 1pm, the paper reported on Monday.

The paper also said the police had claimed that the arrest came just a few hours before Irwanto was to strike a church and a house belonging to Shi'ite Muslims in Palu.

Among the items confiscated from Irwanto's rented home during the raid were a knife, five books on jihad, a manual on bombmaking and a phone that had been modified to trigger a bomb.

He also detonated two small home-made bombs as part of an experiment, said Central Sulawesi police spokesman Haru Suprapto.

"The suspect had intended to round up young extremists to join his new terror cell after realising (slain fugitive) Santoso's group has been cornered in Mount Biru in Poso," the paper quoted Mr Hari saying.

Santoso, or Abu Wardah, was the leader of the East Indonesia Mujahiddin militant group and the country's most wanted terrorist when he was shot dead in July by security forces. He had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

The government's anti-terror Operation Tinombala has been extended to April 3 in a bid to uncover nine other fugitives who are members of Santoso's group, now on the run in the jungles of Poso.