Depok bomb blast aborts sinister plans

Khabar Southeast Asia

Depok bomb blast aborts sinister plans

Residents of Depok, West Java watch on Sunday (September 9th) as police investigate the scene of a bomb blast the night before. The explosion injured at least six people, including a man suspected of making the bomb. [Elisabeth Oktofani/Khabar]

The men exposed by an accidental bomb blast in Depok, West Java were planning acts of terrorism, police say.

One surrendered at a police station, wearing a suicide belt and pining for his family. Another lies in a police hospital, unrecognisable, burns covering 70% of his body.

Just prior to an explosion at 9:30 pm Saturday (September 8th), the two men met at a house in Beji, Depok that advertised itself as an orphanage but turned out to be a bomb factory.

The blast at the so-called Pondok Bidara Orphanage Foundation injured at least six people, most of them neighbours who lived just behind the bomb site.

The victims are Nanut Triaman (62), Bagus Kuncoro (20), Taufik (32), Wulandari (27), Fajruddin (27), and a man originally identified only as Mr X because the severity of his injuries made immediate identification impossible.

Suspected of being a bomb maker, Mr X was brought to the Kramat Jati Police Hospital in East Jakarta for intensive treatment, according to Boy Rafli Amar, the spokesman for the Indonesian National Police.

“His right hand was damaged badly. His neck was hit by some kind of hard object, and his face has been badly burned,” he told reporters Sunday (September 9th) in Jakarta.

After the explosion, neighbours saw two men escape by motorcycle. “We’re monitoring hospitals and clinics because one of them is believed to have suffered burns,” Boy said. “We strongly believe that the suspects were involved in assembling the bomb.”

Police did not have to wait long to nab one of the fugitives. At around 5:30 on Sunday (September 9th), 32-year-old Muhammad Toriq – also spelled Toriq in some reports — turned himself in at Tambora police office in West Jakarta.

An explosives belt was strapped to his body, which he handed to police, along with a gun and ammunition, Jakarta police spokesman Col. Rikwanto said.

“He turned himself in because he missed his family,” Rikwanto said, according to The Jakarta Globe.

Planned suicide attack

Prior to his surrender, Thorik had considered blowing himself up at a police office or a Buddhist centre, Boy later told reporters in an update on the unfolding events.

According to Boy, the suspect planned to detonate a suicide bomb at one of four potential targets: Depok Mobil Brigade (Brimob) headquarters, the National Police Detachment 88 office in Jakarta, a police building in Salemba, Central Jakarta, or a Buddhist centre. The planned attack was a deluded attempt at revenge for the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

Thorik had escaped from the police twice before he surrendered. He first escaped on September 5th after a neighbour reported smoke coming from his house in Tambora, West Jakarta.

The smoke turned out to be a cloud of explosive material that had accidently spilled. When police arrived at the house, Thorik was gone, but they took his mother Iyot, 71, his wife Sri Haryani, and his three-year-old son Mohammad Gabriel to the police station.

Thorik was at the “orphanage” in Depok when the bomb exploded but fled before police arrived.

Earlier, police thought that the critically injured man was Thoriq. But his identity has since been confirmed as Anwar, a relative of suspected militant Arif Hidayat who was arrested Monday (September 10th) in Bojonggede, Bogor, West Java, according to media reports.

A deadly “orphanage”

Based on the severity of his injuries, police think Anwar was making the bomb, perhaps even holding it, when the explosion occurred.

From the scene, police also seized three grenades, six pipes filled with explosive material, one Beretta pistol, homemade guns, small-arms ammunition, 7kg of potassium chlorate, nails, five 9-volt batteries, detonators, cables, and electronic switches.

Police also found some books related to terrorism and a goodbye letter at the scene.

A banner with the words Pondok Bidara Orphanage Foundation hung from the front of the building. Another sign indicated the place was an alternative “cupping therapy” clinic. However, local residents never saw any patients or orphans.

According to Joko, 60, a neighbourhood drinks seller, the person who rented the room had been living there since last month.

“I have never seen any activities because the gate was always locked. I tried to see the person to ask for the monthly rent, but I could not enter,” said Nurhassanah, 37, a community leader whose husband heads the neighbourhood watch (Rukun Tetangga/RT).

Boy said police had been monitoring activity at the house. It is not new for terrorists to use a business front to mask criminal activities, he said.

“Legitimate business activities have been used by terror suspects in many cases. In Wonosobo, for instance, they used their place to sell clothes,” he explained.

Boy said that people need to be aware of newcomers in their neighbourhoods because many terror suspects associate with the community and carry out normal activities.

“It is very important for the community chief to ask for and collect a copy of the identity card from new residents in their community,” he said.

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