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Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Attack In Jakarta, Indonesia

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Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Attack In Jakarta, Indonesia

Asia

Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Attack In Jakarta, Indonesia

Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Attack In Jakarta, Indonesia

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An attack on the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Thursday killed at least two civilians, according to local authorities, as well as five of the attackers. The Islamic State claimed responsibility online. NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with Ali Moore of the BBC who is in Jakarta.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

ISIS has claimed responsibly for a coordinated attack in Jakarta, Indonesia, today. Explosions hit a busy shopping area in the center of the city. At least two people were killed in the attack, and more than 20 were injured. Police in Jakarta say five attackers were also killed. Earlier today, I talked to the BBC's Ali Moore. She was reporting from the scene of the attack, and I asked her how it happened.

ALI MOORE: It was just after about 10:30 in the morning local time, and there were two areas of attacks. One was a police post in the middle of a major thoroughfare. You can't really overestimate the extent to which this thoroughfare is the heart of the commercial center of this city - and then just across in the same intersection, one attack at a Starbucks cafe.

So two attacks - we had five attackers who were killed, two in a suicide bombing of the police post and the other three in a gun battle. They attacked the Starbucks cafe. Then they fled to a nearby theater in the same complex, and that's where they were killed in a gun battle with police. The scene has been cleaned up. The police post has been boarded up, and the authorities say this attack is over.

MCEVERS: So are they saying that all the attackers have been either killed or captured at this point?

MOORE: That is my understanding. And there are five of altogether, and - that have been killed, and they have named them all. They range in age from 25 to 42, but there's a lot that we don't know because none of them were known extremist as such. So in terms of their background, that's the big question. Are any of these people people who had fought with the Islamic State in Syria because that's, of course, been the big worry in a country like Indonesia, is the extent to which the rise of the Islamic State will have an impact on local terrorist groups. There are hundreds of Indonesians who are fighting in Syria, and, of course, many of them are coming home.

MCEVERS: ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack, at least online, and the national police spokesman in Jakarta says, we can say that the attackers were affiliated with the ISIS group. What do we know about that?

MOORE: It's a little unclear, but I think the point is that if you look at what the authorities have done in Indonesia in recent years, the last major terrorist attack was 2009 when two luxury hotels in Jakarta were attacked. Since then, the authorities work very hard with the FBI and U.S., with authorities in other countries to crack down on terrorist cells. They've killed a number of extremist leaders. They have arrested a number of other people, and they have been very successful. And any terrorist activity in recent years has really been very limited to local areas, and the police have been a target.

What is different about this, of course, is that it's a Starbucks, which is a symbol of Western, you know, commercialization, and it's the heart of the city. So while it wasn't very big and it wasn't very coordinated, it does seem to indicate a shift. But in terms of the affiliation comment from the head of police, terrorist organizations in this country have been known to be not well-funded, not well-organized. And I guess, you know, the thinking is that there is no structure, no Islamic-State structure, as such, in Indonesia. But we really need to know more about exactly who these five people are to answer those questions.

MCEVERS: That's the BBC's Ali Moore speaking with us from Jakarta, Indonesia. Thank you very much for your time.

MOORE: It's a pleasure.

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