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Indonesia arrests militants suspected of plotting to disrupt election

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s counter-terrorism unit has arrested 59 suspected militants including some loyalists of the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) suspected of planning to disrupt an upcoming election, a unit spokesperson said on Tuesday (Oct 31).

Nineteen of those arrested were from the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) network, which has ties to al Qaeda, while 40 suspects were from JAD, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS).

Aswin Siregar, spokesperson for the Densus 88 counter-terrorism taskforce, said the JAD militants were suspected of plotting attacks to disrupt the Feb 14 presidential and legislative elections.

“For them, elections are immoral and against Islamic law,” Aswin told a press conference.

“They plan to attack police facilities. It relates to their main goal which is to cancel the election,” he added without giving any more detail of the suspected plotting.

The suspects were detained in operations from Oct 2 to Oct 28 and police also confiscated some guns and chemicals to make bombs, Aswin said.

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Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country and it saw a string of militant attacks in the years after the Sep 11, 2001, attacks on the United States including bombings on the holiday island of Bali in 2002 that killed more than 200 people, many of them Australian tourists.

The Bali bombings were believed to have been orchestrated by JI.

However, security analysts say the militant threat has diminished significantly in recent years, largely because of successful security force operations.

Aswin also warned that pro-Palestinian protests and fund-raising since the recent violence in the Middle East could incite anger and provoke militant attacks.

“These raise passions to commit terrorist acts,” he said.

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