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Indonesia anti-terror squad kills 7 militants

Thursday - 5/9/2013, 5:44am  ET

Police officers carry boxes of evidence recovered from an alleged militant hideout after a raid in Cigondewah village, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday, May 9, 2013. Indonesia's elite anti-terrorism unit went on a busy 24-hour spree to root out suspected Islamic militants, killing seven and arresting six others in three separate operations that may have links to a foiled plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy. (AP Photo/Kusumadireza)

NINIEK KARMINI
Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesia's elite anti-terrorism unit conducted several bloody operations to root out suspected Islamic militants, killing seven and arresting 13 others, police said Thursday as they continued to investigate an alleged plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy.

Investigators said the suspected militants robbed banks and committed other thefts to fund terrorism. Police were trying to determine whether any of the groups raided Wednesday and Thursday were connected to last week's alleged plot to retaliate against Myanmar for recent attacks on Muslims in that country.

Police shot and killed three suspected militants early Thursday after an all-night standoff at a house in the Central Java town of Kebumen. Four others were arrested, said National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.

He said at a news conference that the militants had planned to carry out a robbery. He said those who were killed had refused to surrender and instead fired guns and lobbed homemade bombs at security forces.

The day before in the West Java village of Cigondewah, three suspected terrorists were fatally shot after holing up for hours inside a house, said National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo. He said the men also engaged in a shootout and hurled bombs. One suspect was taken into custody, and Amar said another had been arrested a day earlier.

No officers were hurt in either incident.

Police said they had acted on information obtained through interrogating an alleged gun maker arrested Tuesday in the West Java village of Cipacing. Intelligence gathered from subsequent arrests allowed authorities to quickly move in and storm hideouts in the separate areas, Amar said.

A suspected militant was killed, and another arrested, in Central Java's Batang town on Wednesday. Amar said in a text message that they were suspected in a March jewelry shop robbery in Jakarta. A second suspect was also arrested in Kendal, Central Java.

Also on Wednesday, the anti-terror squad arrested five suspects in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, and in neighboring Banten province. Authorities involved in the various operations also seized firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Amar said the 13 suspects captured and seven killed Wednesday and Thursday were linked to groups in Poso, a flashpoint of terrorism in Central Sulawesi where a Muslim-Christian conflict killed at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002.

They were also allegedly involved in thefts to fund their terrorist activities, including three bank robberies, Amar said. He added they had planned to set Jakarta's largest market, Glodok, on fire, though he provided no details.

It was not immediately known if the suspected militants were connected to last week's alleged plot against the Myanmar Embassy, but it was being investigated. Sectarian violence in that Buddhist-majority country has killed scores of people, and tens of thousands of Muslims have been driven from their homes.

Last week, two suspects were arrested in Jakarta with five homemade bombs in a backpack. Other explosive materials were recovered inside a house they rented in the city.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has been battling terrorists since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Clusters of arrests involving suspected terrorists at various sites are common once the terrorism force, known as Densus 88, receives information. Formed after the Bali attacks, it has received American and Australian financial and technical assistance and has been instrumental in the arrests of hundreds of militants over the past decade. It is credited with reducing the threat of further attacks on Western interests in the country, but the squad had been criticized for the high number of deaths resulting from its raids. More than 70 suspects have been killed since the unit was established.

Terrorist attacks aimed at foreigners in Indonesia have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces.

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Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta contributed to this report.


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