Indonesian police arrest three more terror suspects, including second woman planning suicide bombing

Indonesian police officers inspecting a house after a raid in Bakasi, West Java, on Dec 11, 2016.
Indonesian police officers inspecting a house after a raid in Bakasi, West Java, on Dec 11, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Jakarta - Indonesian police have arrested three more suspects - including a second woman being prepared as a suicide-bomber - who are linked to the foiled terror attack on the Presidential Palace over last weekend in Jakarta.

"As of today, seven people have been named suspects, including (another) alleged bomb-maker, who was arrested in Ngawi, East Java," said National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar, who was speaking to The Jakarta Post in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, on Monday (Dec. 12).

The latest arrests come hot on the heels of consecutive raids by the Detachment 88 (Densus 88) counter-terrorism unit, across West and Central Java on Saturday, as the police thwarted a suicide bombing by a 27-year-old woman who allegedly planned to strike in the capital last Sunday morning.

A total of four people, including a man who made the 3kg "rice cooker" bomb and the woman who was to carry out the attack during Sunday's changing of guard ceremony at Istana Merdeka, were nabbed by Densus 88 on Saturday.

Inspector General Boy said those arrested in the follow-up operations were a second woman from Solo, Central Java, being prepared for a suicide-bombing mission and a second male bomb-maker.

He also confirmed that the seven suspects are part of a new cell based in Solo and put together by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who is in the Middle East fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"This terror cell had direct contact with Bahrun, they operated in several cities (and) they had planned a terror attack, in which Bekasi was just a transit area before they moved to their main target area (in) Jakarta," he added.

Bekasi is a city in West Java, where the first woman suspect with the rice-cooker bomb was arrested. She was not identified by the police but sources had named her as Dian Yuli Novi, from Cirebon, West Java.

The arrest of the second woman supports an earlier theory of the police that Bahrun has been setting up smaller militant cells in Indonesia, tasked with suicide bombings, as well as recruiting jihadists, including women, to mount attacks.

Dian was arrested on Saturday in a rented room at the lodging house located in Bintara Jaya, Bekasi, while the two men who delivered the bomb to her for the attack on the palace, were nabbed 10 miniutes earlier in Kalimalang, in East Jakarta. The maker of the rice-cooker bomb was detained in Karanganyar, Central Java, later in the day.

Investigations into the case are still ongoing, said Inspector General Boy, while Densus 88 officers were still collecting evidence from the home of one of the suspects in Sukoharjo, Central Java.

Sukoharjo police chief Ruminio Ardano told Antara state news media that 42 bottles of chemicals, a laptop, some books, and a rice cooker, were seized from a lodging house in the city.

The suspect who stayed in Sukoharjo was arrested in another house in Ngawi, where the police found more than 1kg of triaceton triperoxide (TATP). The same substance was also used to make the rice-cooker bomb seized in Bekasi.

TATP is found in fertilisers but could be easily turned into high explosives when mixed with other chemicals. Traces of the chemical were found in bombs used during the July 2005 London bombings, as well as the attacks in Paris last year.

The police said on Monday that its bomb disposal unit will destroy the explosive substances on site in Ngawi as the chemicals are too unstable to be transported.