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Jakarta Post

Police foil JAD plot to attack Buddhist temples in Tanjung Balai

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Fri, October 19, 2018   /   07:03 pm
Police foil JAD plot to attack Buddhist temples in Tanjung Balai In riot: Residents gather in front of a vihara in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, which was plundered and set ablaze by an angry mob in this July 2016 file photo. ((Courtesy of kini.co.id/-)

The North Sumatra Police have claimed that two suspected terrorists killed in a raid in Tanjung Balai on Thursday had planned to attack Buddhist temples and police stations in the racially and religiously diverse municipality.

The National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad found seven makeshift bombs containing nails, improvised firearms, ammunition and seven containers of explosive powder from the two suspects.

“They planned to attack temples, police stations and other vital installations in Tanjung Balai,” North Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Agus Andrianto told reporters on Friday.

Tanjung Balai has seen rising sectarian tension in recent years following a 2016 incident in which a Buddhist woman of Chinese descent was accused of defaming Islam for complaining about the loudspeaker of a local mosque.

The incident triggered a riot that led to the burning of several Buddhist temples. The woman, Meiliana, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 18 months in prison in August this year.   

Agus said that the two suspects, identified only as AN, 26, RI, 23, were shot dead after a shootout on Jl. Jumpul in Teluk Nibung district on Thursday afternoon. “They attacked the officers by firing shots.”

The police believed that both suspects were members of Jemaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD), the country’s largest pro-Islamic State group, which is responsible for a number of terror attacks, including the Surabaya bombings that killed dozens of people.

“We have investigated this terror cell after one of its members was killed [in Tanjung Balai] in May,” Tanjung Balai Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Irfan Rifa said.

The police claimed that Tanjung Balai was secure even though they had declared a siaga 1 security alert in the region.