Terrorists attack on police, bank in East Java foiled

JAKARTA - A plot to attack a bank and local police stations in East Java, was foiled after five terror suspects were arrested during a series of raids by the elite Densus 88 counter-terrorism police on Wednesday (June 13).

Handwritten details of the plot were found on the suspects after they were nabbed at three separate locations across Blitar regency, said a local police chief on Thursday.

Blitar is located about three-hours' drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java, where three churches and the city police headquarters were hit by suicide-bombers last month.

"We found a few notes and on one of them was a plan to attack our police headquarters, a police post in Talun (sub-district) and a bank," said Blitar police chief Anissullah Ridha.

All five suspects have since been brought to the Surabaya police headquarters for further investigations, he added.

According to Antara state news agency, one of the suspects, a doctor identified as NH, was armed with a gun with eight bullets.

He and two others, identified only as SZ and AN, were arrested in a rented house owned by Nanang, a fertiliser businessman, who like some Indonesians go by just one name.

NH had signed a three-year lease for the house, Talun sub-district chief Imam Harimiadi told Kompas news.

Mr Imam also said that the authorities came by some time back and questioned him about the house and its mysterious tenant.

"But we didn't know what they did every day, because their door is closed," he added. "They had a gathering once, but it seemed very exclusive… you could not just go in."

Lieutenant Colonel Anissullah said the latest arrests are part of efforts by the police to tighten security following the suicide-bombing at the church and police headquarters in Surabaya on May 13 and 14.

It also comes after the arrest 37 suspects in connection with those attacks which claimed 27 lives, including 13 perpetrators who are said to have been in sleeper cells with ties to the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local terrorist group loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Among the suspects in custody is Syamsul Arifin, a 37-year-old resident from Blitar who was picked up with his wife by police in Malang, East Java on May 16.

Syamsul alias Abu Umar is said to be the leader of a JAD terrorist cell in East Java and police believes he had a hand in the Surabaya bombings, said Lieutenant Colonel Anissullah.