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IS sympathiser behind Indonesia police HQ deadly gun shootout

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Police tape seals off the family home of the armed woman who was shot dead by authorities while attacking Indonesia’s national police headquarters in Jakarta on Wednesday. AFP

IS sympathiser behind Indonesia police HQ deadly gun shootout

An armed woman shot dead at Indonesia’s national police headquarters on March 31 was an Islamic State (IS) sympathiser, authorities said, citing social media posts she made shortly before the fatal gun battle.

Indonesia has been on high alert in recent days after two suicide bombers – alleged members of a pro-IS extremist group – blew themselves up at a church in Makassar city on Sulawesi island, wounding about 20 people.

Police outposts have been frequent targets of Indonesian extremists in the past.

On March 31 afternoon, the 25-year-old woman wearing a niqab face veil and a long black gown entered the police complex in downtown Jakarta and opened fire on officers at the entrance, authorities said.

Images broadcast by local media showed the woman fall to the ground as shots rang out, before lying motionless as police surrounded her body.

Indonesian National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo told reporters on March 31 evening: “She was a lone wolf who supported the IS ideology and this has been proven by her social media posts.”

Authorities said they had identified the woman as a university dropout who had left a suicide note at her family home in Jakarta, which they raided after the shootout.

She had posted the IS flag and writings about becoming a martyr on a recently created Instagram account, Prabowo said.

Authorities would probe whether the woman had links to Muslim majority Indonesia’s myriad extremist groups.

Nation on edge

The country, which has long struggled with attacks by Islamist militants including the 2002 Bali bombings, has been on edge after the weekend cathedral attack.

A newlywed couple who belonged to pro-IS extremist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was behind the cathedral blast, police have said.

More than a dozen others suspected in the plot have been arrested in recent days.

The couple were members of an Islamic study group along with several of the other suspects, police said.

March 28’s explosion at the main Catholic cathedral in Makassar took place just after congregants finished celebrating Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week in the run-up to Easter Sunday.

The attack came after the arrest of dozens of suspected militants in recent months by Indonesia’s counter-terror squad.

Indonesia’s security forces regularly arrest suspected militants and attacks have often been low-level and have targeted domestic security forces.

Before March 28, one of the country’s last major deadly attacks was in 2018, when a dozen people were killed after a family of suicide bombers blew themselves up at churches during Sunday services in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya.

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