Indonesia’s anti-terrorism squad defused bomb ahead of Bali G-20 summit: Sources

Indonesia’s anti-terrorism squad defused bomb ahead of Bali G-20 summit: Sources

Indonesia's Densus88 conducted five raids in September and October, ahead of the G-20 summit in Bali. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE

About a month before world leaders gathered in Bali for the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in mid-November, Indonesia’s anti-terrorism squad Densus 88 defused a fully assembled bomb during a raid in Banten province on Java island, according to two government sources.

The bomb was meant to target the summit, one of the sources told The Straits Times, though the tight security around the venue made it highly improbable for any militant group to penetrate the island.

“If anyone had been caught at the border crossing to Bali and the bomb exploded, it would have led to foreign delegates departing Bali quickly, ahead of the summit,” the source said.

Densus 88 conducted five raids in September and October in Central Java and Banten provinces, acting on tip-offs from the public as well as gathered intelligence, according to the sources.

In one raid in Banten’s Tangerang city, west of Jakarta, the squad found the ready-to-use homemade bomb and rounded up several militants. No other details were provided by the sources.

ST has contacted Densus 88 for comments.

Anti-terrorism expert Adhe Bhakti of the Centre for Radicalism and Deradicalisation Studies (Pakar) said sweeping changes to Indonesia’s anti-terror law that President Joko Widodo proposed in early 2016 – which Parliament ratified two years later – have boosted the authorities’ ability to counter terrorism in the past four years.

“The new law allows the security authorities to make a move on actions that the old law wouldn’t have accommodated,” Mr Adhe told ST.

The revised law allows the authorities to make pre-emptive arrests and detain terror suspects for a longer time, based only on preliminary leads. It gives greater weight to prevention, and allows the authorities to hold anyone suspected of planning a terror attack without charge for up to 21 days.

In the past, the seven-day limit forced police investigators to release suspects while they attempted to build a case and gather evidence to prosecute them.

Indonesia is a first-time president of the G-20 major and emerging economies. At the summit on Nov 15 and 16 were 19 heads of state and government, including United States President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore is not a G-20 member but had been invited to attend the summit.

Also at the event were thousands of delegates accompanying the world leaders, as well as leaders of international institutions and bodies, such as United Nations’ Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and World Bank president David Malpass.

Twelve warships, two F-16 fighter jets and 13 helicopters safeguarded Bali’s waters and airspace, while Anoa armoured vehicles were on standby to evacuate attendees in case of any life-threatening emergencies.

The 2002 Bali bombing, the largest terror attack in Indonesia, killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists. The second Bali bombing in 2005 killed 23 people.


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