Wednesday evening’s twin bomb blasts at the packed Kampung Melayu bus terminal in East Jakarta have sent a stark warning not only to the security authorities, but also to religiously pluralistic Indonesia. Three policemen and two civilians — believed to be suicide bombers – were killed, while six other police officers and five civilians were injured in the explosion.
No organization or individual has claimed responsibility for the latest terror attack on Jakarta, which occurred on the eve of the celebration of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, a public holiday in Indonesia, and only three days before Muslims begin the fasting month of Ramadhan. However, speculation is rife that the attack was aimed at the police, a force that has persistently combatted acts of terrorism.
The Kampung Melayu bombing is therefore the latest attack to have targeted the police in recent years. In January last year Jakarta was rocked by an attack around the Sarinah shopping mall in Central Jakarta. Eight people, including four terrorists and four civilians, were killed and 20 others were injured, including five police officers.
Earlier in April 2011, a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body at a mosque inside the Cirebon Police compound in West Java where a congregation was performing Friday prayers. Dozens of police officers suffered shrapnel injuries.
In view of similar incidents worldwide, the police suspect a link between the Kampung Melayu bombing and attacks rocking other parts of the world, including the city of Manchester in the United Kingdom, the bombing at the Bangkok hospital, both on Monday, and the occupation of Marawi City in southern Philippines, which also took place on Wednesday.
Shortly after the Kampung Melayu attack the police collected documents related to the two suspected suicide bombers, including ID cards of the two and a passport belonging to one of them. The police also found half-burned papers at the bombing site, yet it remains to be seen whether the hand-written text documents have anything to do with the attack.
It will take the police some time to disclose the motives and masterminds behind the act of terror and whether they are associated with either local or international terror networks. History shows the Indonesian police and its counterterrorism squad have managed to identify groups behind acts of terrorism plaguing the country and conducted raids to foil their attempts to spread fear, for the sake of all our safety.
Following Wednesday’s attack the police, who are responsible for domestic security, need to beef up measures simply to prevent the terrorists from launching another attack. The blasts are the latest evidence that terror threats are clear and imminent, rather than part of a political ploy as some people have suggested.
Protecting the nation, while risking their own lives, is indeed an uphill task the police face alone, especially in view of the country’s archipelagic nature and huge population. The police surely need the trust and support of other elements of the nation, including each one of us.