An Indonesian anti-terrorism squad has arrested nine men suspected of planning suicide attacks against security forces and the government in Jakarta, the capital.
Two suspects were arrested in Central Java’s Solo town after authorities received information of their whereabouts from other suspects who had recently surrendered, Boy Rafli Amar, a police spokesman, said on Sunday.
National police chief Timur Pradopo said that explosives were defused during the raids. Detonators, black powder and nitroglycerin used for explosives were found, as well as books promoting holy war, the police said.
The first two suspects were interrogated on Saturday and led police to six other members of the group hours later in the same town.
A ninth suspect was arrested late on Saturday in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
Amar said two of those arrested, Badri Hartono and Rudi Kurnia Putra, both 45, worked to recruit young men and taught at least one member of the group how to make bombs.
“They were the central figures of the group who had planned several terror attacks,” Amar said.
“They recruited, invited young men to be trained in a military-style jihadi camp and bought bomb-making materials.”
He said the group had planned to bomb the country’s parliament building, shoot police officers and attack members of the anti-terrorism squad in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Police are still investigating the possible link of the unnamed group to other terrorism networks, Amar said. Authorities believe it has now been largely broken up, but they continue to search for other members.
Since March, more than 30 suspects have been arrested and seven others killed in a series of raids in Indonesia.
All were alleged to be plotting domestic attacks, and some – aged between 18 and 30 – had attended a military-style training camp in Poso on Sulawesi island.
Another member of the unnamed group, alleged bomb maker Muhammad Toriq, surrendered two weeks ago in Jakarta, while carrying a gun and ammunition and wearing a suicide bomber belt that did not contain any explosives.
A second suspect, Yusuf Rizaldi, gave himself up to police in North Sumatra three days later. Both co-operated to help bring down the group’s other members in Saturday’s raid, Amar said.
Toriq had been on the run since police flushed him out of his Jakarta house earlier this month after neighbours reported seeing smoke billowing from it.
He escaped again a week later after a blast rocked a house in the capital’s outskirts. Police believe the bomb accidentally exploded while it was being prepared for an attack, killing one suspect inside the home.
When Toriq walked into a police station and surrendered, he told authorities he had planned to go on a suicide bomb mission on September 10, targeting either police officers, Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism squad, or Buddhists, as a way to protest against the treatment of the minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Indonesia, a secular nation, has been battling armed groups since 2002, when suspects linked to the Southeast Asian network Jemaah Islamiyah started attacking Western nightclubs, restaurants and embassies.
During the bombing in Bali in 2002, 202 people were killed, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 24 British citizens. In 2005, another wave of attacks killed 15 Indonesians and at least three Australians.
Recent attacks in Indonesia have been carried out by individuals or small groups and have targeted local “infidels” instead of Westerners, with less deadly results.