BANDUNG, Indonesia, Dec 7 (Reuters) – A suspected Islamist militant, angered by Indonesia’s new criminal code, killed another person and wounded at least 10 others in a suicide bombing at a police station in the city of Bandung on Wednesday, authorities said.
The suicide bomber was believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State-inspired group Jama’ah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and had previously been jailed on terrorism charges, Indonesian police chief Listio Sigit Prabowo told a news conference.
The attacker, identified as Agus Sujatno, was released in late 2021 and investigators found dozens of documents protesting the country’s controversial new criminal code at the crime scene, the police chief said.
“We received dozens of papers protesting the newly approved criminal code,” he said.
Although the new criminal code approved by parliament on Tuesday contains sharia-based provisions, Islamist hardliners may be angered by other articles that could be used to crack down on the promotion of extremist ideology, analysts say.
West Java police chief Suntana earlier told Metro TV that authorities found a blue motorbike at the scene, which they believe was used by the attacker.
Attached to the bike was a note containing a message denouncing a new criminal code “As an unreliable product,” Suntana said.
Todd Elliott, a senior security analyst at Concord Consulting in Jakarta, said the attack had likely been planned for some time and was an ideological rejection of the country’s new law.
“While all the attention is on some of these sharia-based provisions in the criminal code and how it signals the spread of conservative Islam in Indonesia, there are also changes in the criminal code that hardliners will not support,” he said. .
“Pancasila, including outlawing any ideology that goes against the state ideology, and that would include extremist ideology.”
Video footage from the scene of Wednesday’s attack showed smoke rising from the damaged police station along with rubble.
“Suddenly I heard an explosion… I saw some police officers coming out of the station and they couldn’t walk properly,” Hannes, a 21-year-old street vendor who witnessed the explosion, told Reuters.
Islamist militants have attacked the world’s largest Muslim-majority country in recent years, including churches, police stations and places frequented by foreigners.
Members of JAD are responsible for multiple suicide church bombings in the city of Surabaya in 2018. The attacks were carried out by three families, who also attached suicide vests to their young children, and killed at least 30 people.
In 2021, a pair of JAD newlyweds carried out a suicide bombing attack on a cathedral in Makassar, only to kill themselves.
In an effort to crack down on militants, Indonesia has enacted a tough new anti-terrorism law following a suicide bombing linked to JAD.
Analysts say the group, now largely fragmented, has been significantly weakened by a wave of arrests by counter-terrorism agencies in recent years.
Reporting by Anand Tereshia, Francisca Nangoy, Stefano Sulaiman, UD Kahya Budiman and Kate Lamb; Written by Kate Lamb; Editing by Ed Davies, Gerry Doyle and Simon Cameron-Moore
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