Terror strike: Medical workers transport a bomb victim at Pelabuhan Hospital in Cirebon, West Java, on Friday. A suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque inside a police compound in Cirebon on Friday, killing himself and wounding 17 others, police said, in the most serious incident in a recent spate of attacks by religious militants. Reuters/Shan Shan
Police fell victim to a terror attack when a suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body at the Az-Dzikra mosque inside the Cirebon Police compound where a congregation were performing Friday prayers.
The suicide bomber died in the attack, while dozens of police officers who made up the majority of the congregation, suffered injuries from shrapnel.
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo arrived at the scene in the afternoon accompanied by his entourage. Timur said the suicide bomber had bombs attached to his chest and possibly used a vest.
“The suicide bomber is dead with severe wounds to his upper chest,” he said, adding that the bomber was about 170 centimeters tall and between the age of 25 to 30.
The body of the alleged bomber was flown to Kramat Jati Police precinct in Jakarta for further investigation. The face of the alleged bomber remains recognizable although his body was blown apart.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam said seven police officers were injured in the explosion: Cirebon Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Herukoco, the head of human resources, the traffic police chief, two internal affairs officers and two civil servants.
“There are 17 injured in total. The [Cirebon] Police chief was also hit,” he said, adding that some of the victims were rushed to Pertamina Hospital and Pelabuhan Hospital. The remaining victims, a cleric and nine civilians, were treated at Bhayangkara Hospital, he added.
Pelabuhan Hospital, however, reported it had treated 26 victims.
Anton confirmed speculation the suicide bomber had targeted police.
“[The police] were the targets, [if not] why would he have entered [the mosque] and joined the prayer?” he added.
Anton admitted the Cirebon Police mosque lacked security, “as it is a mosque”. “We must re-evaluate [the security],” he said.
Terrorism analyst Noor Huda Ismail said the suicide bombing in Cirebon may be a sign that the terror network in Indonesia is struggling to conduct high value attacks. He said the attack at the mosque lacked preparation.
“The attack was not systematic,” Noor Huda said, adding that it indicated that the new system of recruitment for suicide bombers was not as sophisticated as before. “It seems they are having trouble with new recruits,” he said.
Noor Huda said the Cirebon Police mosque bombing was a minor incident compared to previous acts of terrorism.
“[The mosque bomber] placed the bomb in his jacket pocket. When it exploded, it destroyed his torso but his face remained recognizable,” he said, adding that this careless decision made identification easier.
Terrorism analyst Ali Fauzi, who boasts strong connections to Indonesian terror networks, agreed. Ali said the vest that was used by the bomber was not designed for maximum impact.
He told TVOne the design of the Cirebon bomb led to only those in front of the bomber being injured, thus lacking maximum impact.
He added the bomber underestimated the power of the bomb. “I would say this was an amateur job,” he said.
Terrorism analyst Dinno Cressbon said government institutions, notably the police, were the target of acts of terrorism recently.
Dinno said that to radicals, mosques built by those with a different belief system were fair targets for destruction under Islamic law to as they were administered by enemies.
“This is the scary part. They are expanding their targets to include various groups considered wayward such as Ahmadiyah or Shiites,” he said.
President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono, through presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha, condemned Friday’s attack.
Julian said the President had instructed Coordinating Political, Law, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto to work with the National Police to uncover detailed information about the blast.
Said Aqil Siradj, the chairman of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, condemned the suicide bombing, calling the act “irresponsible”.
He said terrorists in Indonesia had shifted from targeting symbols of the US and the West to domestic targets. “Terrorists now choose any place where they want to attack,” he said.