Indonesia’s security minister Wiranto hurt after stabbing attack

Hospital official says former military general suffered ‘two deep wounds’ but was conscious and in stable condition.

Wiranto - Indonesia
President Widodo had appointed the former military chief as the top security minister in 2016 [File: Beawiharta/Reuters]

A man wielding a knife attacked Indonesia‘s chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday, during a visit to the town of Pandeglang in Banten province on the island of Java, images from police and television showed.

Indonesian national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo confirmed the incident and told media that the male perpetrator and a suspected female co-conspirator had been arrested.

AFP news agency quoted police as saying that the main attacker was allegedly “exposed to IS radicalism”.

Berkah Hospital spokesman Firmansyah said the former military general suffered “two deep wounds”, but was conscious and in stable condition, adding that Wiranto has been medically evacuated to the capital Jakarta for further treatment.

According to reports, Indonesian President Joko Widodo is set to visit Wiranto at the Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital.  

The local police chief was also reportedly injured, according to Dedi Prasetyo.

Video clips posted on social media showed the minister was alighting from an SUV, when a man wearing a black shirt sneaked in and stabbed him.

Another video clip showed Wiranto stumbling to the ground following the attack, as his security personnel scrambled to restrain the attacker.

Several people quickly loaded the injured minister back to the vehicle, as the other people continue to wrestle with the assailant.

In recent months, Wiranto has been designated by President Joko Widodo as the person in-charge with the handling of the unrest in the country’s West Papua region.

President Widodo had appointed the former military chief as the top security minister in 2016.

General Wiranto, 72, had been previously accused of committing atrocities during Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor.

He was in charge of the military when the Indonesian army and paramilitaries carried out deadly assaults after East Timor sought independence from Indonesia in 1999.

About 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed, mainly by Indonesian forces and their proxies, or died of starvation and illness during the occupation.

Wiranto was among other senior officers indicted by UN prosecutors over human rights abuses during the 24-year occupation period.

Despite evidence gathered proving his role in the killings of 1999, Wiranto denies any wrongdoing and has never faced court over the atrocities.

As security minister, Wiranto oversees five ministries including foreign, interior and defence.

The attack on Wiranto comes just days ahead of President Joko Widodo’s inauguration for his second term in office.

It is believed that several hundred Indonesians have traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies