Jakarta attack

Attack site quieter, but city moves on

A man wearing a Darth Vader costume making a statement with his placard in Jalan M.H. Thamrin in downtown Jakarta yesterday, near the scene of Thursday's attack.
A man wearing a Darth Vader costume making a statement with his placard in Jalan M.H. Thamrin in downtown Jakarta yesterday, near the scene of Thursday's attack.PHOTO: REUTERS

"Kami tidak takut", or "we are not afraid" in Bahasa Indonesia, was emblazoned across a wreath placed at ground zero of Thursday's attack in downtown Jakarta.

The hashtag #kamitidaktakut also went viral as the city woke up yesterday after suffering its first major terror attack since 2009.

State media Antara reported that a group of about 200 people calling themselves the "Kami tidak takut society" had gathered at the site of the attack chanting: "We are not afraid... to fight the terrorists."

Two bystanders were killed and more than 20 injured after local militants laid siege to a Starbucks cafe at a busy intersection in central Jakarta on Thursday morning.

Yesterday, the once busy downtown junction of Jalan M.H. Thamrin and Jalan K.H. Wahid Hasyim was a lot quieter just before lunchtime - 24 hours after the attack occurred.

Shopkeepers and street vendors said business was slow, with some thinking of closing for the day.

But there was no real sense of foreboding. Office workers were spotted going for lunch, and small groups of men were seen making their way for Friday prayers at a nearby mosque.

The words on the wreath seem to sum up the spirit of the city - no stranger to terror threats - best.

"There is nothing to fear - we must move on," an office worker told The Straits Times as he was rushing off to work in Gedung Jaya.

Just across the street was the Menara Cakrawala building housing the Starbucks cafe. The cafe, now a barricaded crime scene, will be a small symbol of why Indonesia will remain a target for extremist groups.

This is because, while the country has the world's largest Muslim population, its government and people embrace a largely secular way of life, balancing Islamic principles with a unique style of Indonesian openness to new ideas and foreigners. The government's strong stance against extremism is another reason.

Jakarta's notorious heavy traffic had also resumed along the Thamrin boulevard.News helicopters and armoured vehicles were replaced by TV broadcast and satellite trucks.

There was a slight buzz when police came to examine the scene outside the cafe before lunch. But besides the partially damaged police post and fence around the cafe, things seemed to be back to normal.

Earlier in the morning, Starbucks said in a statement it was reopening all cafes except the Menara Cakrawala one. It had shut all its Jakarta stores after the attacks on Thursday.

A Starbucks barista from an outlet in a popular mall told The Straits Times yesterday that business was "the same, still good". He cannot be named as the coffee chain told staff not to speak to the press.

Cafes visited by The Straits Times had a steady stream of customers.

Only a few foreigners were seen but Swede Anders Ridstrom, a representative of a manufacturing firm, said it does not mean they are staying away. "It's not more unsafe here than everywhere else," he said. "People don't get surprised (by such attacks) any more."

• Additional reporting by Trinna Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Attack site quieter, but city moves on'. Print Edition | Subscribe