Indonesia police kill two suspects in militant crackdown

MEDAN, INDONESIA (AP) — Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism squad last Saturday shot and killed two suspected militants who may have had links to a suicide attack at a busy police station in the country’s third-largest city, police said.

Three suspected militants refused to surrender and resisted by shooting at police during the raid in North Sumatra province’s Hamparan Perak village, said North Sumatra Police Chief Agus Andrianto.

He said two suspects were fatally shot, while an officer was taken to the hospital with gunshot and stab wounds to his thigh and waist.

The third suspect at first escaped but was later arrested and transported to a police detention centre in the capital, Jakarta, for further investigation.

“They were suspected of being the planners and assemblers of the suicide attack in Medan police station,” Andrianto told reporters at news conference in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra.

He said police seized a gun, two knifes, and bombs from the suspects.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the Medan city police station last Wednesday, wounding at least six people. That attack came as Indonesia’s counterterrorism force worked to root out suspected militants following last month’s assault by a knife-wielding militant couple who wounded Indonesia’s top security minister.

Over 60 suspects have been detained by the counterterrorism squad, known as Densus 88, in several provinces. The sweep followed a tipoff about possible attacks against police and places of worship in several areas.

Indonesia has been battling militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces and local “infidels”.

Police said they were tipped off to the location of the suspect’s in last Saturday’s raid after interrogating more than a dozen suspects arrested after the police station attack.

Investigators are trying to determine whether any of those arrested are part of a larger group involved in the attack.

Andrianto said police have arrested at least 18 people suspected to have links to the 24-year-old suicide attacker, identified as Rabbial Muslim Nasution, including three who were arrested in neighbouring Aceh province.

Separately, the National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said the wife of the attacker was among the arrested suspects. He said a search of the woman’s online chats indicated she may have been planning a similar attack on the tourist island of Bali.