Australia, Indonesia Bust Terror Ring: Police

CANBERRA ~ Indonesian and Australian police have smashed a suspected terrorist cell with links to an Islamic militant group blamed for deadly bombings in Indonesia, they announced this week.

The Australian Federal Police and Indonesian police said they arrested eight people last month who had access to improvised bombs and other weapons during raids in East Java and suspected ties to Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

JI has been blamed for a string of major attacks in which Australians were targeted or killed.

“One of the suspects is believed to have close associations to the bombing of the Australian Embassy (in Jakarta),” the police agencies said in a statement.

Officers seized 20 bombs, 730 kilograms of explosive material, 45 kilograms of TNT, almost 200 detonators, more than a thousand rounds of ammunition and a cache of weapons, police said.

Five of the men were arrested in a raid in North Sleman in Yogyakarta on March 20 during which one of the suspects was mortally injured.

“During the arrest, INP (Indonesian National Police) shot one of the suspects after he produced an M16 rifle and fired upon INP officers,” the statement said. “The suspect was fatally wounded.”

Three other suspects were picked up in two further raids in the days after the initial strike. Indonesian police have charged the suspects with terrorism-related offences and they will face Indonesian courts soon, the statement said.

Indonesian police chief General Surya Dharma said the raids had averted a major terrorist attack, while the AFP deputy commissioner John Lawler described the operation as a watershed.

“This is a significant milestone for the INP and AFP efforts to contain and counter the threat posed by terrorists to the region”, he said.

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