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TERROR IN JAKARTA: 'Situation under control' after explosions, gunfire erupt in Indonesian capital

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen stands guard near one of the blast sites. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)

At least six people are dead, including three police officers, after several explosions at the Sarinah shopping mall in an apparent multi-site terrorist attack in central Jakarta today.

A UN official has claimed at least one explosion went off outside a UN office.

One of the bombs reportedly exploded outside a police tower, with Indonesia’s national news agency Antara claiming at least two police officers were killed.

This video appears to show an explosion outside the Starbucks (some people may find this distressing).

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said the “situation [is] under control” in a statement on national TV following the attacks on Thursday.

Security entered the Starbucks that was one of the targets. “The Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road. There has been a lull in the shooting but someone is on the roof of the building and police are aiming their guns at him,” said a Reuters photographer at the scene.

Domestic media reported gunfire heard on the streets ceased over an hour and a half after the initial bombs went off.

ABC’s Indonesian bureau chief Samantha Hawley tweeted this photo of armored tanks that arrived at the main blast scene.

Outside of central Jakarta, locals are reporting separate explosions in the neighborhoods of Cikni, Silpi and Kuningan, towards the south of the city.

There have been no official numbers given by Indonesian authorities, however, locals in the area including the UN official Jeremy Douglas, are tweeting about the incident, and claiming at least six bombs have gone off.

Indonesia’s national police spokesman said the explosions were suspected to have been carried out by suicide bombers and are ISIS-related. However, Indonesia’s intelligence chief says there are no indications yet that the attacks are related to Islamic State.

“This is definitely terrorism but there are no indications yet that it’s ISIS related,” said Sutiyoso.

The president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo has told his people that,
“We should not be afraid and defeated by acts of terror like this”.

Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson has tweeted advice to Australians in the area, saying tourists should limit their movements and listen to authorities.

The Australian embassy is also located in central Jakarta, 5 kilometers south of the initial explosion.

This video posted on Twitter by an Indonesian film maker appears to record gunfire on the streets as bystanders seek cover.

This tweet claims to show a shootout at the site of one of the blasts.

Indonesia’s central bank is located in the same area as the main blasts, and a spokesman for the bank told local media a policy meeting was going ahead and a decision on interest rates would be announced as planned later in the day.

In December last year, Indonesia’s National Police chief General Badrodin Haiti warned that authorities had evidence terror attacks were being planned.

“It could be a single (attack), it could be massive, it could be a series, certainly it depends on their preparation and readiness,” he said.

South-east Asia has become a new focus for ISIS’ global expansion. In December a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said that the region was a “potential beachhead for the group” with the concern focused on Malaysia, Indonesia, the southern Philippines and parts of Thailand.

A number of Islamist entities “have also openly campaigned for ISIL”, the report said, “organising mass gatherings at which more than 2,000 Indonesians have expressed support for the group.”

Indonesian authorities have been challenged by the rise of Muslim extremists across the archipelago over the past 15 years. Jemaah Islamiah, or JI, was a key affiliate of al-Qaeda in the early 2000s and carried out the Bali bombings in 2002, which killed 202 pedple, including 88 Australians.

In 2009 suicide bombers simultaneously attacked two American hotels. The attack on the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton killed eight people and injures as many as 50.

More recently security experts have been concerned about the rise of ISIS (also know as ISIL or Islamic State) in the country, which is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta, noted last November that the ISIS attacks in Paris could inspire Indonesian radicals to target western interests in Indonesia.

“The Paris attacks drew praise from Indonesians with ISIS in Syria, among them Bahrun Naim, an ex-prisoner and jihadi intellectual who was involved in trying to organise an attack in Central Java from Syria last August,” Jones wrote on the Lowy Interpreter. “In a blog posting entitled ‘Lessons from the Paris Attacks’ (Pelajaran dari Serangan Paris), he urged his Indonesian audience to study the planning, targeting, timing, coordination, security and courage of the Paris teams. His readers aren’t fellow fighters in Syria, they’re too busy. He’s writing for the terrorist wannabes on Java.”

Here is where the UN offices are located in the Indonesia capital.

More to come.

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