Indonesian suicide bomber was fugitive terror suspect, police say

A suicide bomber who struck a police station in Indonesia Tuesday was suspected to be a militant who escaped a raid six months ago, police said.

The motorcyclist detonated his explosives when he was approached by the officer at the Surakarta city police department in Central Java, national police said. He killed himself and injured an officer.

Photos released by the police showed the attacker lying apparently lifeless near his mangled motorcycle in the police station compound.

The bomber was believed to be Nur Rohman, an associate of Bahrun Naim, a wanted Indonesian militant thought to be fighting with Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa, police chief Badrodin zHaiti said.

Nur Rohman escaped a police raid on a militant safe house six months ago, Badrodin said.

"He had three bombs," he said. "He was one of those who learned bomb-making skills." 

Badrodin said a DNA test was needed to confirm the identity of the bomber.

The attack came on the eve of Eid al-Fitr Muslim festival, the biggest holiday in Indonesia marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. 

"We call on officers on duty to remain on alert during this long holiday," the police said. 

Surakarta, also known as Solo, is known as a hotbed of Islamist militancy.

It is home to the Al-Mukmin boarding school, several of whose graduates have been implicated in past militant attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. 

The school's founder, radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year prison term for supporting a militant training camp. 

President Joko Widodo, who is from Solo and once served as the city's mayor, urged people to remain calm and go about their business as usual. 

"This is the last day of fasting and we must remain steadfast and not be afraid," Joko said.

"Violence in the name of anything cannot be justified and must condemned," he said. 

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has suffered several deadly attacks blamed on Islamist militants since the early 2000s.

Last update: Tue, 05/07/2016 - 11:38
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