A suicide bomber riding a motorbike blew himself up outside an Indonesian police station early Tuesday morning, injuring one officer in an attack officials said was linked to the Islamic State group.
The attack comes less than a month after suicide bombings were reportedly foiled in Surabaya by police. Indonesia has been on heightened alert since Islamic State claimed responsibility for its first attack in the Southeast Asian country last January in Jakarta, in which eight people were killed including the four attackers.
The bomber was riding a motorbike and blew himself up at the gate after he was prevented from entering the largest police station in Solo.
The attack on Tuesday morning — the last day of Ramadan —in the central Javanese city of Solo (formally called Surakarta), the country’s radical heartland and the hometown of Indonesian president Joko Widodo, came as the Indonesian leader was preparing to visit to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid with his family.
“I have ordered the chief of police to go after this terrorist network,” president Jokowi said at a media conference, adding that he still plans to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in Solo later this week.
The authorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation are on alert a day before Eid, amid fears IS-linked militants could launch fresh attacks after a deadly assault in Jakarta in January.
Last month police arrested three suspected militants accused of planning to launch IS-inspired suicide bombings in the city of Surabaya. Solo is considered a hotbed of radicalism and is where firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, now in jail, ran an Islamic boarding school that trained militants.
Although it is still unclear which group is responsible for the attack, intelligence chief Sutiyoso said he strongly suspected ISIS. One source said, the suicide bomber was named as 31-year old Nur Rohman from Sangkrah, a village in Surakarta.
Nur Rohman was part of the January 2016 attack in Jakarta and had been on the run since all the while evading arrests repeatedly. He was allegedly part of a network controlled by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant fighting with IS in Syria. Both men had been neighbours in Solo.
Both men were influenced by the radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who was the spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah militants responsible for the 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali that killed 202 people.
The attack comes only a week after a grenade was lobbed into a bar in western Malaysia, injuring eight people who had gathered to watch a Euro 2016 soccer match on television.
Malaysian police say the attackers had received instructions from a Malaysian ISIS member in Syria.
Tuesday’s Indonesian suicide bombing is a series of attacks inspired by Islamic State across the region in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore earlier this year arrested a large Bangladesh Islamic State cell.
Social media reports surface claiming IS-members have issued new threats against Indonesia and Malaysia.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has suffered several Islamic extremist attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.