Indonesia holds two suspects over Myanmar embassy plot

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2013, 3:37pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 May, 2013, 1:26am


Indonesian anti-terrorist police have detained two men suspected of planning a bomb attack on the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta on Friday in the wake of fresh violence against Muslims in Myanmar, officials said.

The suspects were arrested late on Thursday travelling by motorbike in a busy residential area in the south of the capital with five assembled pipe bombs, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said in a statement.

The men, Sefa Riano, 28, and Achmad Taufiq, 21, planned to launch the attack on Friday, said a senior source at the country’s anti-terrorist police, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The head of Indonesia’s anti-terrorist agency, Ansyaad Mbai, said that the target was the Myanmar embassy.

“This was an operation to stop a terrorist action. We are very certain that the attack would have been launched if we did not stop them,” he said, adding that: “Their intention was very clear.”

A woman, believed to be the wife of one of the men, had also been detained to be questioned as a witness over the planned attack, said Amar.

The planned attack follows fresh anti-Muslim unrest in Myanmar this week that left at least one dead, the latest flare-up in religious tension that has exposed deep fractures in the formerly junta-run country and cast a shadow over political reforms.

Unrest in March in Buddhist-majority Myanmar left dozens dead, and clashes in Rakhine state last year between Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya minority left around 200 dead.

Rohingya, regarded by many Burmese with hostility, have been arriving in Muslim-majority Indonesia in increasing numbers as they flee violence at home, and there have been growing signs of anger among Indonesians at their plight.

In September, a man admitted to planning a suicide bomb attack against Buddhists in Jakarta in response to Myanmar’s treatment of Muslim minorities, particularly Rohingya.

In July, hundreds of Muslim hardliners protested outside Myanmar’s embassy in Jakarta over the issue.

And the violence rocking Myanmar spilled over into Indonesia last month when Rohingya beat several Myanmar Buddhists to death at an immigration detention centre on Sumatra island.

Indonesia has been a vocal supporter of Muslim minorities in Myanmar, in January pledging US$1 million in aid to Rakhine, the western state that is the home of the Rohingya.