(From Reuters)

Indonesia is bracing for the return of experienced Islamic State (IS) fighters from the Middle East who would be capable of carrying out attacks far more deadly than the assault on Jakarta last week, the country’s police chief said on Monday.

Indonesian police stand guard at the site of this week's militant attack in central Jakarta
Indonesian police stand guard at the site of  last week’s militant attack in central Jakarta

Thursday’s attack in the heart of Jakarta was a hastily executed “Plan B” by Islamist militants, after police raids had disrupted preparations for other other strikes against Christmas and New Year events, Police General Badrodin Haiti said in an interview.

Eight people, including four militants, were killed in the assault on the capital’s main Thamrin Road that involved pistols and home-made bombs.

The attack, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia to be attributed to Syria-based Islamic State, could have been far deadlier, but the militants lacked training and powerful weapons, Haiti said.

“I believe this was a Plan B. Their main target was Christmas and New Year. They chose Thamrin (after that plan was disrupted) because they were hoping for a big impact despite their small size, because this is a crowded center,” he said. “The perpetrators had the opportunity to take more victims (during the attack), but because their capabilities were limited, we were able to take them out of action.”

There are fears that much deadlier attacks could follow, with the return of experienced front line fighters with Islamic State currently in Syria and Iraq, Haiti said.

Authorities say about 500 Indonesians have traveled to the Middle East to join the extremist group. About 100 are believed to have returned, although experts say only about 15 have combat experience. Read More

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