JAKARTA — Four men were shot and killed as they staged an attack on a police headquarters that left one officer dead and two wounded, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, days after a wave of deadly suicide bombings in another part of the country. The group slammed a minivan into a gate at the station in Riau on Sumatra island and then attacked officers with samurai swords, according to the country’s national police.
“Four have been shot to death and one fled,” said spokesman Setyo Wasisto. The fifth suspect was later arrested, he added. Television images showed what was reportedly the bodies of four suspects lying on the ground. 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 police did not immediately confirm the reports.
No group has taken responsibility so far. The attack comes as the Southeast Asian nation has been rocked by a series of deadly attacks on churches and a police station, involving multiple suicide bombings carried out by families, including young children. It was not clear if Wednesday’s incident was linked to the earlier attacks in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second biggest city, which have been claimed by the Islamic State group.
One local journalist at the scene sustained minor injuries in the attack, police said. Media were at the station to cover a press conference about a drug bust when the attack happened. Police have been frequent targets of mostly low level attacks by local militants, including a 2017 suicide bombing at a bus station in Jakarta that killed three police officers.
Indonesia — which is set to host the Asian Games in just three months and an IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali in October — has long struggled with Islamist militancy, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people — mostly foreign tourists — in the country’s worst-ever terror attack. This week’s bloody violence is putting pressure on lawmakers to pass a stalled security law that would give police more power to take pre-emptive action against people suspected of planning terror attacks.
Indonesia’s elite anti-terror force Densus 88 has responded with a series of raids in which several suspected militants have been shot dead — including the second-ranking member of the local chapter of extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah(JAD), believed responsible for the attacks. The church bombing family — whose father was named a local JAD leader — and two other families linked to this week’s attacks knew each other and were part of the same Koran study group, police said.