Four Indonesian officials, including its chief security minister and the president’s top intelligence adviser, were targeted in a failed assassination plot that may be linked to deadly riots in Jakarta, police said on Tuesday.
Details of the alleged plan come less than a week after eight demonstrators were killed and hundreds injured during the capital’s worst violence in years.
The heart of the city descended into chaos over two nights of street battles between riot police and protesters opposed to Joko Widodo’s re-election as leader of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.
A group of six people – arrested before they could carry out the killings – planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, authorities said on Tuesday.
The ringleader was arrested near the riots with a gun last week, they added.
‘Meant to create fear’
Chief Security Minister Wiranto, State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan, Widodo’s intelligence and security adviser Gories Mere and cabinet minister Luhut Pandjaitan were the assassination targets, according to police.
“The plot to assassinate national figures was meant to create fear,” Wiranto, who goes by one name, told a press briefing on Tuesday.
Authorities – who said Widodo was not a target – did not reveal when the alleged plot was to have been carried out.
Last week’s protests were sparked by official election results that showed Widodo easily beat rival Prabowo Subianto, a retired general who has launched a court challenge over claims that the April 17 poll was rigged against him.
Various groups converged on central Jakarta, including Subianto supporters and hardline Islamic militants who wanted to spark chaos by setting off bombs during the protests, authorities have claimed.
Also on Tuesday, police said they had arrested 10 people for spreading fake news and hoaxes about the riots, which is a crime under Indonesia’s electronic information law.
Among the claims was a debunked report that police raided a mosque and another that falsely suggested Indonesian security forces had enlisted the help of Chinese troops to quell the civil unrest.
Jakarta took the unusual step of temporarily blocking Indonesia’s 130-million strong Internet users from sharing photos and videos on platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter during the unrest.
Indonesian police themselves are under the spotlight after online videos surfaced that appeared to show officers beating some protesters.
There are also questions about how the demonstrators – including a 15-year-old high school student – died.
Police have insisted they did not shoot live rounds, but instead used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas to push back the crowds. Some of the dead were reported to have had gunshot wounds.