Jakarta. Police said an Indonesian woman with affiliations to the Islamic State had detonated at least two home-made bombs in Sibolga, North Sumatra, early on Wednesday morning (13/03), killing herself and two of her children.
The incident happened at the tail end of a massive police operation that had netted three terror suspects and 300 kilograms of explosives.
The explosives were seized in the coastal town—an eight-hour drive south from the provincial capital Medan—on Tuesday.
Police have been on the hunt for terrorist networks across the country to prevent them from attacking officers and public facilities, with just over a month left before Indonesia holds a presidential election.
The scattered body parts of the Sibolga female bomber—who appeared to be in her 30s—were found inside her home, Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.
On Tuesday afternoon, the police's anti-terror unit Densus 88 had arrested the woman's husband, Husain, aka Abu Hamzah, a suspected terrorist who has been affiliated with the Islamic State network in Indonesia. Husain was also arrested in Sibolga.
Police had then gone on to Husain's home, where his wife and two of the couple’s children, both under five years old, were hiding.
According to the police, Husain's wife threw a bomb at officers as they rushed her home. One police officer and a neighbor were injured by the blast.
The police spent the next 10 hours negotiating with Husain's wife, trying to persuade her to surrender. Husain had tried to help convince his wife to give herself up to no avail, Dedi said.
Around an hour after midnight, the woman blew up two more bombs. The second bomb killed her and the two children, the police suspected. Police have so far recovered body parts from two individuals, a female adult and a two-year-old.
"Husain is an expert at making bombs and recruiting new members [to his terrorist network], but it was his wife who was the real ideologue," Dedi said.
"Husain's wife has always been much more militant than himself," the police officer said.
The police’s bomb squad Gegana, including a robot unit, has been deployed to the house to find and defuse more bombs.
"Dozens of houses in the area have been damaged. The bombs used low explosives, but the impact was significant," Dedi said.
"Husain said he had assembled dozens of bombs. His wife had four of them, as well as dozens of kilograms of potassium that can be used as explosives," Dedi said.
The home-made bombs were being assembled by Husain and his group to be used in daring attacks of security officers, according to the police spokesman.
Before Husain's arrest, police had already captured other individuals from the same network in Lampung and West Kalimantan on Sunday. The police spokesman did not reveal how many are now in custody.
"They're all from the same network. They communicate with each other on WhatsApp and Facebook," Dedi said.
Indonesia's Politics, Law and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Wiranto said the operation in Sibolga was part of a continuing effort to fight terrorism.
"Terror networks get on the move again whenever our security forces do not monitor them," Wiranto said on Wednesday.
According to the minister, the Sibolga blast will not affect security and safety in the country before the general and presidential elections on April 17.
"People will say the election is not going to be safe. I guarantee you, it will be," Wiranto said.