Islamic State militants involved in Jakarta riots
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- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Affected Countries: indonesia;
Two suspects affiliated with a radical Islamist group who were “intending to perform jihad” were arrested during the Indonesian protests that killed at least eight people and injured hundreds, police have said.
Three of the protesters were also arrested carrying guns to the rally, held by supporters of failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, according to police.
Downtown areas of the capital became a battlefield on Tuesday and Wednesday nights with tear gas, rubber bullets, rocks and firecrackers overnight. Protesters tore up slabs of pavement to turn into projectiles, destroyed street signs and set fire to food stalls and a security post.
National police spokesman Muhamad Iqbal said that, of the thousands of protesters on Wednesday night, only 300 were behaving violently, but some were armed with spears and firecrackers, and set fire to buses and other vehicles.
Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons to disperse the crowds.
Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan announced on Wednesday an increase in the death toll to eight, adding that 700 had been injured. The dead included three teenagers and 737 people were injured in the rioting, he said. Police did not immediately confirm the casualty figures.
Iqbal said the Islamic militants captured were from a group called Garis, which he said had sent some representatives to Syria to fight with Islamic State. Investigations were still underway into two more radical conspirators who were believed to still be at large.
Police said they arrested 185 people on Wednesday night in various places around the city centre. However, the streets had calmed by early on Thursday morning and the city was starting to return to normal during the day.
It is the worst political violence in the young democracy of Indonesia in decades, and came after newly re-elected president Joko Widodo had called for calm. Joko won the presidential election convincingly with 55 per cent of the vote, but his rival Prabowo has claimed vote-rigging and fraud meant the result was not credible.
Police spokesman Iqbal said officers had found envelopes with money on some of the people they searched, suggesting instigators were behind the trouble.
“This is not a spontaneous incident, this is something by design. There are indications that the mobs are paid and bent on causing chaos,” he said.
Prabowo, in a video posted to his Twitter account late on Wednesday, urged his supporters to disperse peacefully.
“I beg you to return to your homes to rest, avoid any actions that would break the law,” he said.
Prabowo’s political party, Gerindra, complained that the authorities were trying to pin the blame for the riots on him.
Prabowo’s supporters have said they will mount a legal challenge to the election result in the Constitutional Court on Friday.
Roads that were quiet on Wednesday as office workers stayed away from the city centre, were abuzz with traffic again on Thursday. City workers in orange overalls swept up the debris.
Joko won more than 85 million of 154 million votes cast but Prabowo alleged “massive cheating and irregularities” and refused to concede defeat.
The election agency has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.
In other parts of Indonesia, a mob burnt a police station on Madura island, northeast of the main island of Java, while two police posts were set ablaze in Pontianak on Borneo island, media reported.
Indonesian financial markets were firmer on Thursday with the rupiah up 0.5 per cent and the main stock index up 1.6 per cent.
Taye Shim, director of capital markets at Mirae Asset Securities Indonesia, said he did not see the demonstrations as a serious threat to Indonesia’s stability.
“While upset supporters might demonstrate their disagreement with the official election results, we don’t think it would be a serious threat to Indonesia’s democracy,” he told Reuters.