Indonesia police uncover alleged plot to bomb presidential palace

Five suspected Muslim militants have been arrested and chemicals said to be used to make bombs for attacks on the presidential palace at the end of August have been seized. SCREENGRAB: GOOGLE MAPS

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police on Tuesday (Aug 15) arrested five suspected Muslim militants and seized chemicals near the capital, Jakarta, that they said were being used to make bombs for attacks on the presidential palace at the end of August.

Two of the five, a husband and wife, had been deported from Hong Kong for allegedly spreading radical ideology and the group had studied bomb-making techniques through a website run by an Indonesian believed to be fighting with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), police said.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, has seen a series of small-scale attacks inspired by ISIS, but most have been amateurishly planned and executed, using basic homemade weapons that have caused few deaths and minimal damage.

Police have been concerned about suspected militants getting more sophisticated after twin pressure cooker bombs killed three police at a Jakarta bus station in May.

"This is perhaps the first time such a method has been used in West Java, involving very dangerous chemicals," said provincial police spokesman Yusri Yunus, adding that several stores had declined to sell the chemicals to the suspects.

Yunus did not elaborate on the chemicals or the plan to attack the presidential palace. West Java is just to the east of Jakarta.

Counter-terrorism police who found the chemicals in a raid on a house in Bandung, 120 km (70 miles) southeast of Jakarta, said they experienced a burning sensation and redness on their skin when they entered the house.

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