ISIS militants attack Jakarta in first strike at Indonesia

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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Jakarta Attack

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- Islamic State said it was behind an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen in the heart of Jakarta on Thursday, the first time the radical group has targeted the world's most populous Muslim nation.

READ MORE: Behind ISIS attack on Indonesia, homegrown jihadi intellectual

Just seven people were killed despite multiple blasts and a gunfight, and five of them were the attackers themselves, but the brazenness of their siege suggested a new brand of militancy in a country where low-level strikes on police are common.

See photos from the scene in Indonesia:

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ISIS militants attack Jakarta in first strike at Indonesia
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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It took security forces about three hours to end the attack near a Starbucks cafe and Sarinah's, Jakarta's oldest department store, after a team of militants traded gunfire with police and blew themselves up.

An Indonesian and a Canadian were killed in the attack. Twenty people, including an Algerian, Austrian, German and Dutchman, were wounded.

"A group of soldiers of the caliphate in Indonesia targeted a gathering from the crusader alliance that fights the Islamic State in Jakarta," the group said in a statement. It added that 15 people were killed.

Jakarta's police chief told reporters: "ISIS is behind this attack definitely," using a common acronym for Islamic State, and he named an Indonesian militant called Bahrun Naim as the man responsible for plotting it.

Police believe Naim is in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The drama played out on the streets and on television screens, with at least six explosions and a gunfight in a movie theater. But the low death toll pointed to the involvement of local militants whose weapons were rudimentary, experts said.

In a sign of public unease, a bang caused by a tire bursting triggered a bomb scare that sent police cars rushing back to the scene hours after the attack.

"The president has said the nation and the people should not be scared and should not be defeated by acts of terror," said palace spokesman Ari Dwipayana.

ARMOURED CARS, HELICOPTERS

"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," Reuters photographer Darren Whiteside said as the attack unfolded.

Police responded in force within minutes. Black armored cars screeched to a halt in front of the Starbucks and sniper teams were deployed around the neighborhood as helicopters buzzed overhead.

Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian said one man entered the Starbucks cafe and blew himself up, wounding several inside.

As people poured out of the cafe, two waiting gunmen opened fire on them. At the same time, two militants attacked a police traffic post nearby, using what he described as hand grenade-like bombs.

After the militants had been overcome, a body still lay on the street, a shoe nearby among the debris. The city center's notoriously jammed roads were largely deserted.

Indonesia has seen attacks by Islamist militants before, but a coordinated assault by a team of suicide bombers and gunmen is unprecedented and has echoes of the sieges seen in Mumbai seven years ago and in Paris last November.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who was in Jakarta recently to bolster security coordination, told the Australian newspaper he had "no doubt" Islamic State was seeking to establish a "distant caliphate" in Indonesia.

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

The country had been on edge for weeks over the threat posed by Islamist militants.

Counter-terrorism police had rounded up about 20 people with suspected links to Islamic State, whose battle lines in Syria and Iraq have included nationals from several Asian countries.

HISTORY OF ATTACKS

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

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

On Tuesday, a Syrian suicide bomber killed 10 German tourists in Istanbul. Authorities there suspect the bomber had links to Islamic State.

Harits Abu Ulya, a expert on militancy who knows Bahrun Naim, the militant named by Indonesian authorities, said he expected more attacks.

"This is an indication that he has been learning from the Paris attacks and he has studied the strategy," he said. "I still have doubts about the capability of the local militants to carry out attacks on a bigger scale. But it is a possibility."

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