Jakarta in lockdown following attacks that killed seven

Site of suicide blast a ‘selfie shrine’ with street vendors selling snacks

People gather outside a Starbucks coffee shop close to where the Jakarta attacks happened. Photograph: Getty

People gather outside a Starbucks coffee shop close to where the Jakarta attacks happened. Photograph: Getty

 

The Indonesian capital Jakarta was in security lockdown after a deadly attack claimed by Islamic State in which seven people were killed, including five of the assailants, and 23 people were wounded.

Streets near the Starbucks and the Plaza Sarinah shopping mall where the assailants struck were open again but the mood in the city was subdued, and people are afraid that this attack may only be the start of a longer campaign of terror in Indonesia.

One young woman, Ardila, was working in the Burger King beside Starbucks when the attack happened.

Two of her friends were shot in the Starbucks and three were hit by the first suicide bombing, and she is still clearly upset by the day’s events.

“I’m still in shock. It’s hard for me to come down here. It was such a shock when it happened. There were several blasts,” she said. She points at a bloodstain on the ground and says: “That’s from the third explosion”.

“One of the suspects had very dark brown skin and was wearing a cap, I saw him,” she said.

Ardila is worried that the Burger King will stay closed for a longer time as she needs the income.

“I came down here today to see if Burger King was open, I’ve been working there for three years. My father drives a motorbike taxi and my mother also works, and I have two younger siblings and I have to support them.

One older security guard said he expected security in Jakarta to be ramped up now.

“We guard this shopping mall 24 hours a day. We didn’t know what was happening until the explosion. It’s crazy - most of the people going to these shops are local Indonesians, they are hurting Indonesians.

It’s not a big place for foreigners here,” he said.

Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country by population, with around 90 per cent of the country’s 250 million people followers of Islam.

Muslim extremists from Indonesia are fighting with Islamic State in Syria. However, security experts said the low death toll from Thursday’s attack was a sign of poorly trained local militants with only basic weapons.

In the run-up to the attack, Indonesian security services had received warnings from members of Isis saying “Indonesia will become international news”.

The brazen attack, in broad daylight with a heavy police presence, is seen as signalling a new level of militancy in Indonesia.

Indonesians are heavy users of social media and What’sApp, Path and Facebook were busy with footage of the event, rumours and speculation.

One video clip doing the rounds showed an extremist warning the military that his group would make them suffer for becoming to close to the West.

“It’s not right for you to make Indonesia so close to the Western infidels. The first thing that you, the army, need to do is to fight us. You have all the guns and equipment but we will overwhelm you,” he said.

“You are so proud that America is on your side, but we will prove who is the true winner with the blessing of Allah. You are evil cops and we are the true believers,” he said.

The site of the blasts has become a “selfie shrine” with people crowding around to get their pictures taken, and street hawkers have been quick to set up stalls selling satay and other snacks. One photo circulating online shows soldiers buying satay from a street seller.

The most popular hashtags are #indonesiaunite and the slogan #kamitidaktakut which means “we are not afraid”.

Just hours after the blasts rumours were rift that the blasts were happening all over the city.

The government is also beefing up its powers to combat the Isis threat. Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s chief security minister, said he would work with parliament to change the law to allow preemptive arrests.

President Joko Widodo visited the site and said: “We condemn acts that spread terror and disturb peace. We shouldn’t be afraid; we shouldn’t be defeated by this act of terror.”

The attack is a new stage in Islamic militancy in Indonesia. One of the most dangerous militant groups in Indonesia is Jemaah Islamiyah, which was believed to have masterminded the Bali bombings and the 2004 truck bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta that killed 11.

In 2009, two suicide bombers checked into the JW Marriott Hotel and the Ritz Carlton and carried out co-ordinated bombings, killing themselves and at least six victims and wounding more than 50 others.