Blasts, gunfight in Indonesian capital; at least six dead

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Jakarta Explosions Captured By Onlookers

Militants launched a gun and bomb assault in the center of the Indonesian capital on Thursday, killing at least six people, in an attack that followed a threat by Islamic State fighters to put the country in their "spotlight", police said.

Media said six bombs went off and a Reuters witness saw police exchanging fire with gunmen. Several hours after the attacks began, the witness heard more gunfire and at least one more explosion.

One blast was in a Starbucks cafe and security forces were later seen entering the building.

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Blasts, gunfight in Indonesian capital; at least six dead
Indonesian soldiers man an armored vehicle as they guard near the site where an attack occurred in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen guard the blast site after a series of explosions hit the Indonesia capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
Indonesian police secure the scene next to victims (C-in orange body bags) outside a traffic police outpost after a series of explosions hit central Jakarta on January 14, 2016. Gunfire and explosions in the Indonesian capital Jakarta killed at least four people on January 14 in what the country's president dubbed 'acts of terror', with fears that militants were still on the run. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD / AFP / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
People carry an injured police officer near the site where an explosion went off at a police post, rear, in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo)
Police officers are deployed near the site where of an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A police armored vehicle is parked outside a Starbucks Cafe near where an explosion went off in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area of downtown Jakarta and waged gun-battles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Map locates bomb explosions at Starbucks in Jakarta; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;
Police officers push back curious onlookers from the spot near a police post where an explosion went off in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - Bodies are seen as a police officer walks near a police post damaged by an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Suicide bombers exploded themselves in downtown Jakarta on Thursday while gunmen attacked a police post nearby, a witness told The Associated Press. Local television reported more explosions in other parts of the city. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Body bags cover victims outside a traffic police outpost after a series of explosions hit central Jakarta on January 14, 2016. Gunfire and explosions in the Indonesian capital Jakarta killed at least four people on January 14 in what the country's president dubbed 'acts of terror', with fears that militants were still on the run. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD / AFP / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers rush to take their position at the site of an attack in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Police officers stand guard outside a damaged Starbucks cafe after an attack in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
A police post in the center of Thamrin street across from Sarinah shopping mall is damaged after a bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Suicide bombers exploded themselves in downtown Jakarta on Thursday while gunmen attacked a police post nearby, a witness told The Associated Press. Local television reported more explosions in other parts of the city. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen guard the blast site after a series of explosions hit the Indonesia capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: An Indonesian policeman stands guard in front of a blast site at the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen and ambulance arrive in front of Sarinah shopping mall after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen stands guard near the blast site after a series of explosions hit the Indonesia capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian police search for suspects after a series blasts hit the Indonesian capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian police search for suspects after a series blasts hit the Indonesian capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
An Indonesian policeman fires his handgun towards suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. At least four people have been killed, one police officer and three civilians, after blasts on January 14 hit the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian police take position behind a vehicle as they pursue suspects after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises after series of blasts outside a shopping centre in the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Plainclothes police aim their handguns towards suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian police take position and aim their weapons as they pursue suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
A plainclothes policeman prepares his handgun as authorities chase the suspects after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indonesian policeman fires his handgun towards suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police chase suspects thought to be hiding at a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police (L) hide behind vehicles during an exchange of gunfire with suspects hiding near a Starbucks cafe when another blast happens in Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
#Indonesia television showing images of #Jakarta bombings at police office. https://t.co/6k8DZYSpGn
Saw multiple explosions near Starbucks in central Jakarta. Wtf? https://t.co/CK1IVjBnXe
Here is a photo just sent in re that apparent bombing at sarinah mall in #jakarta. https://t.co/DNQdPVO1EL
More photos post sarinah bomb a few min ago. Apparently shooting going on. #Jakarta. https://t.co/Uhvkky2m70
#BREAKING | At least 1 dead in massive explosion near UN office in central Jakarta Picture courtesy: @ReesEdward https://t.co/W3UteDCa0f
Stay Safe Everyone at Jakarta !!! https://t.co/YeNAD7MBEN
'I see three dead people on the road' - several explosions, gunfire reported in Jakarta: https://t.co/kBEYoz1nRW https://t.co/2mBaqVCumz
Breaking: @jdouglasSEA view from his #UN office in #Jakarta directly opposite where the attacks have been happening https://t.co/ueHVBXpBSG
Still tense in centre Jakarta. Police edgy. Can see three bodies. Terrible scene. Multiple blasts reported https://t.co/3sz7sqeuGs
Several blasts and exchanges of heavy gunfire rock the centre of Jakarta: https://t.co/wqkMOk6pOC #9News https://t.co/mQb8Ockkq0
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"The Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road. There has been a lull in the shooting but someone is on the roof of the building and police are aiming their guns at him," said a Reuters photographer.

Police suspected a suicide bomber was responsible for at least one of the blasts and up to 14 militant gunmen were involved in the attack, Metro TV reported.

Police snipers were deployed among hundreds of other security officers, some in armored vehicles. A bomb disposal unit was seen entering the building where the Starbucks is located, which also houses a cinema.

An office worker in a building above the Starbucks cafe, who declined to be identified, said he and fellow workers had been ordered to stay put after the first blast.

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"That's when I heard the second explosion. It was loud and powerful," he said.

Indonesia has been on edge for weeks over the threat posed by Islamist militants and counter-terrorism police have launched a crackdown on people with suspected links to Islamic State.

"We have previously received a threat from Islamic State that Indonesia will be the spotlight," police spokesman Anton Charliyan told reporters. But he said police did not know who was responsible.

He said three policemen and three civilians had been killed.

Media reported that a Dutch person and another foreigner were among the casualties but it was not clear if they were dead or wounded.

Police said four suspected attackers were killed.

Multiple Explosions and Gunfire Hit Jakarta

The last major militant attacks in Jakarta were in July 2009, with bombs at the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels.

President Joko Widodo was outside Jakarta when the attack unfolded but was cutting shot his trip to return to the sprawling capital of more than 10 million people by helicopter.

He urged the public not to be fearful and or speculate on who was behind the attack.

"We must not be afraid, we must not be defeated by an act of terror like this," he said in televised comments.

The national intelligence agency chief said there was no indication that Islamic State militants had carried out the attack.

ALARM OVER ISLAMIC STATE

Early in the attack, one explosion went off in front of a shopping center called the Sarinah mall, on a main avenue. Media said a police post outside the mall was blown up.

A U.N. building was in lock-down with no one allowed in or out, a witness said. Some other high-rise buildings in the area were evacuated.

Several embassies are also in the vicinity and Indonesia's central bank, in the same area, and was going ahead with a policy meeting and a decision on interest rates would be announced as planned later in the day, a spokesman said.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, the vast majority of whom practise a moderate form of the religion.

The country saw a spate of militant attacks in the 2000s, the deadliest of which was a nightclub bombing on the holiday island of Bali that killed 202 people, most of them tourists.

Police have been largely successful in destroying domestic militant cells since then, but officials have more recently been worrying about a resurgence inspired by groups such as Islamic State and Indonesians who return after fighting with the group.

Alarm in the West over the danger stemming from Islamic State rocketed after the Paris attacks in November and the killing of 14 people in California in December.

But mostly Muslim nations regarded as more moderate have also been caught in the spiraling violence. On Tuesday, a Syrian suicide bomber killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul.

Turkish authorities suspect the bomber had links to Islamic State and unidentified powers using the militant group.

Indonesian security forces this month intensified a manhunt for a militant leader called Santoso, regarded as Indonesia's most high-profile backer of Islamic State, in the jungles of Sulawesi island.

(Aditional reporting by Fergus Jensen, Gayatri Suroyo, Nilufar Rizki, Eveline Danubrata, Randy Fabi and Fransiska Nangoy; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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