Britons warned to be vigilant after Indonesia terror attacks

Police in Jakarta take cover during a gun battle with terrorists in the Indonesian capital. Picture: AP
Police in Jakarta take cover during a gun battle with terrorists in the Indonesian capital. Picture: AP
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The Foreign Office has warned British nationals in Indonesia to “maintain vigilance” after a series of terror attacks in the capital Jakarta left at least seven dead.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond condemned what he described as “senseless acts of terror” after armed attackers linked to Islamic State set off explosions in a busy shopping area and fought a series of gun battles with police.

“The UK utterly condemns these senseless acts of violence,” he said in a statement.

“We will continue to provide support and assistance to the government of Indonesia as they work to defeat those who plan and perpetrate these acts of terror.”

All five attackers and a Canadian and an Indonesian died in the mid-morning explosions and gunfire that was watched by office workers from high-rise buildings in central Jakarta, not far from the presidential palace and the US Embassy. Another 19 people were injured.

When the area was finally secured a few hours later, bodies were left sprawled on pavements. But given the firepower the attackers carried – handguns, grenades and homemade bombs – and the soft targets they picked, casualties were relatively few compared to the mayhem and carnage caused by the Paris attacks.

“We have identified all attackers, we can say that the attackers were affiliated with the ISIS group,” national police spokesman Maj Gen Anton Charilyan said.

Jakarta police chief Maj Gen Tito Karnavian said that the first suicide bombing happened at a Starbucks restaurant, causing customers to run outside where two gunmen opened fire, killing a Canadian and wounding an Indonesian.

A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman in the Netherlands said a Dutch man was seriously injured and was undergoing surgery.

At about the same time two other suicide bombers attacked a nearby traffic police booth, killing themselves and an Indonesian man. Karnavian said that minutes later a group of policemen was attacked by the remaining two gunmen, using homemade bombs. This led to a 15-minute gunfight in which both attackers were killed, he said.

Police then combed the building housing the Starbucks and another nearby building where they discovered six homemade bombs – five small ones and a big one.

During a visit last year, David Cameron agreed to step up joint efforts with the Indonesian government to counter the extremist threat, including by providing counter-terror training in the UK for 50 police officers and helping to increase security at airports in Jakarta and the resort island of Bali.

A No 10 spokesman said: “There is an ongoing dialogue between ourselves and the Indonesians on this issue. Back in July, our two countries agreed that we would work more closely together on the threat we both face from this kind of extremism and that work is ongoing.”