Asia Pacific

Indonesia police shoot dead 4 men after sword attack on Pekanbaru HQ

Indonesian police said Wednesday, May 16 that they shot and killed four men who used swords in an attack on a police station in which one officer was killed and two others were injured.

Islamic State later claimed the attack, saying via its Amaq agency that it was carried out by “Islamic state fighters.”

The latest attack comes after series of suicide bombings carried out by families at churches and a police station in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second biggest city, on Java island.

At around 9 a.m., a group drove a minivan through a gate at a Riau Police headquarters in the provincial capital Pekanbaru, in the east of Sumatra island.

They then attacked officers with samurai swords, injuring two, National Police spokesperson Inspector General Setyo Wasisto said.

Setyo said that four of the attackers were shot dead, while one other suspect attempted to escape in a vehicle, crashing into and killing a police officer. The driver was later arrested, Setyo said.

One journalist who was at the police station for a press conference about a drug bust sustained minor injuries in the incident, police said.

Local police initially said they had killed three people and wounded another.

Media said one attacker may have had a bomb strapped to his body but Setyo did not comment on the reports.

Attackers were “part of the Islamic State of Indonesia network”

Police later said the men belonged to a local extremist group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but was not Jamaah Anshar Daulah, the group blamed for the Surabaya suicide bombings, The Jakarta Post reported.

“They were part of the Islamic State of Indonesia network in Riau, which is part of the ISIS network in Indonesia,” National Police spokesperson Setyo said. “They all pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

Setyo said that they were among a group of six who had travelled to Java to “to help the Mako Brimob rioters,” but then returned because the prison incident had ended.

He was referring to a riot that broke out on May 8 in a high-security prison at Mako Brimob on the outskirts of Jakarta. It was followed by 36-hour standoff between detainees and police, after Islamist inmates took a guard hostage. The inmates eventually surrendered. Five police personnel and a prisoner were killed in the incident.

“Two of them were caught in South Sumatra, while the remaining four went to Pekanbaru to carry out the attack, which we successfully stopped,” Setyo said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for that incident although police denied ISIS involvement.

On Friday, police shot dead two people who were among four they said were travelling to Mako Brimob to “help the rioting prisoners.” The four had been arrested and were in handcuffs, but police said two attempted to strangle officers and were shot.

String of deadly attacks

On Sunday, a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks perpetrated by a single family struck churches in Surabaya killing more than a dozen people, and the following day a family carried out a suicide bomb attack on a police headquarters in Surabaya.

Both families were in the same religious study group, authorities said.

“They had the same teacher and they regularly met for Koran recital every week,” said East Java police chief Machfud Arifin.

Police said on Monday that a bomb plot by third family was foiled when the device exploded prematurely, and they were seeking a fourth family suspected of planning another attack.

On Tuesday night, Indonesia National Police counter-terrorism squad Densus 88 arrested two families in Surabaya, The Jakarta Post reported. The father of one family was killed during the arrest operation.

The Surabaya attacks have been blamed on Jamaah Anshar Daulah. The U.S. Department of State has designated JAD as a terrorist group, saying it is comprised of almost two dozen extremist groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

However, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict suggested in a 2016 report that JAD, which translates as “Partisans of the State Group,” is “in fact a generic term used for any supporter of ISIS,” and it functions more as an umbrella organisation than a coherent group.


This is a developing story that was updated with additional information and edited on May 16. It includes reporting from AFP.

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