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Jakarta attacks: seven dead in multiple attacks linked to Islamic State

Jakarta: Seven people have been killed in a terrorist attack in central Jakarta, including five who are believed to be perpetrators linked to the Islamic State. 

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First look at IS Jakarta gunman

Indonesia blames IS for an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta.

Multiple explosions hit the city's central business district on Thursday, including a suicide bombing. 

All five of the perpetrators of Thursday's attacks were killed, although Jakarta Police chief Tito Karnavian said police were still in pursuit of the Islamic State network.

He said Bahrun Naim, who is believed to be in Syria, was the South-East Asia leader of the network.

In November last year, terrorism expert Sidney Jones wrote that Bahrun Naim had praised the Paris attacks.

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"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," she wrote in the Interpreter.

She said Naim was an ex-prisoner and jihadi intellectual who was involved in trying to organise an attack in Central Java from Syria last August.

Mr Karnavian, the Jakarta Police chief, said that in the beginning ISIS only conducted its activities in Syria.

"But its leader Al Baghdadi later on made ISIS branches outside of Syria, such as in France, Africa, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines."

He said police had deactivated five small bombs and a bigger one on Thursday.

Mr Karnavian said the suicide bomber blew himself up outside Starbucks at the base of the Skyline building, near Sarinah mall in Central Jakarta.

"As people started to run out of Starbucks, two men who were waiting outside started shooting," 

He said one foreigner, a Canadian, had been killed in the attack. 

Dutch United Nations worker Johan Kieft was confirmed by his colleagues to be "badly injured" after he was shot in the side when caught in the attack at Starbucks.

A further nineteen people have been injured, some severely. 

Islamic State group backers have circulated a claim of responsibility for suicide attacks resembling the extremist group's previous messages.

The claim was shared on Twitter late Thursday. The US-based SITE Intelligence Group said it also circulated among pro-Islamic State groups on the message app Telegram.

The statement could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, though it resembled previous claims made by the group, which controls territory in both Iraq and Syria.

The Indonsian police chief said two men attacked a police posting on nearby Thamrin Road, one of Jakarta's main thoroughfares.

A police officer was injured in the attack. A team of police on their way to provide security at a protest turned back when they heard the explosion.

"There was a shoot out for about 15 minutes - four police officers got shot," he said.

"Twenty to twenty five minutes later we managed to take control of the situation. We disabled the perpetrators, they are dead." 

Police found five hand grenades and an explosive device. 

"By 3pm the location was cleared," he said.

Mr Karnavian said the terrorist attack was linked to ISIS.

"They changed strategy from just attacking Syria to outside places as well," he said. "Like the attack in Paris, Asia is also a target."

National police spokesman Anton Charliyan said on Thursday night that the terrorists were "from the ISIS group".

"They claimed Indonesia will be in the world headlines," he said. " They said 'they will have a concert.' "  

When suspected terrorists were arrested before Christmas for allegedly planning attacks in Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan, police seized documents which suggested suspects were planning to "do a concert".

The police spokesman said at the time it was not yet known what concert meant but in the past "bride" had been a code word for suicide bomber.

Husain, an employee at nearby bank, told Fairfax Media: "First there was explosion in front of Starbucks at Sarinah just before 11. Then people panicked, tried to avoid Starbucks, people ran away. Went to nearby police station and saw a bomb in front of the police station.

"We're terrified, tried to run away shouting 'bomb, bomb'. This guy suddenly was there and opened fire with pistol. Shot the police man in his stomach. After that shot randomly. Witness tried to save police," Husain said.

Another witness, Oly, said: "On the streets people just abandoned their vehicles. Just like that and ran," Oly said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged people to remain calm as rumours of attacks in multiple locations swept like wild fire. 

Police said reports of similar explosions in Cikini (Central Jakarta), Kuningan (South Jakarta), Simatupang (South Jakarta) and Slipi (South Jakarta), as well as reports of gunshots in the area of Palmerah (West Jakarta), were a hoax.

"Our nation and our people should not be afraid, we will not be defeated by these acts of terror, I hope the public stay calm," President Widodo said on TV station MetroTV.

"We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people."

Indonesia has been on edge in recent weeks over the threat posed by Islamist militants and counter-terrorism police have launched a crackdown on people with suspected links to Islamic State.

 The Australian government is advising people to avoid the area. ""Australians should avoid the affected area, limit their movements and follow the instructions of local authorities. The overall level of advice has not changed. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Bali," it said on its website.

"Our embassy is making urgent enquiries with local authorities to determine whether any Australians have been affected. This incident is still unfolding and it is too early to determine the scale of damage or extent of casualties," the office for Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said. 

Attorney General George Brandis said the Australian Government had offered law enforcement and intelligence assistance to Indonesia following the deadly attacks.

"I have contacted my counterpart in Indonesia, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs H. E. Luhut B. Panjaitan, to convey Australia's support," he said.

"The offer follows our recent meeting at the Inaugural Indonesia-Australia Ministerial Council on Law and Security in which we agreed to closer operational and technical counter terrorism cooperation."

The United States Embassy issued an emergency message to advise all US citizens to avoid the area around Sari Pan Pacific Hotel and Sarinah Plaza in Jalan Sudirman, and Thamrin in Central Jakarta.

Security consultancy firm Hillman Jakarta told people to limit their movements to "essential only" until the city was confirmed as cleared of all gunmen. It recommended people avoid the Jakarta CBD and all government buildings.

Hours before the attacks, fugitive al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri posted a message saying South-East Asia "is ripe for a jihadist revival" and urged attacks like the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Al Zawahiri primarily focused on an older 24-minute posting on al-Qaeda's propaganda arm As Sahab in the region, mentioning Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

That video opens with an old CNN interview with Bali bomber Amrozi Nurhasyim who said: "My message for Australians: don't come to places like that ever again... I'm sure that my colleagues will bomb it again." Amrozi was executed over the bombings.

Al Zawahiri's posting contained footage of other Bali bombers and radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir. The US has a $US25 million reward for the capture of Egyptian born Al Zawahiri.

The attacks come after another video was posted on the internet claiming that four extremist Islamic groups in the southern Philippines had merged, creating a new potent threat to the region. Leaders of the groups have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

- with Reuters, AAP

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