Indonesia foils ISIS-linked bomb plots to target election result day

Authorities said the suspects were members of a local group that has pledged allegiance to the militant group

This picture taken on May 6, 2019 shows an Indonesian police officer displaying a photo of a suspected militant during a press conference in Jakarta. Indonesia has thwarted a bid by a Islamic State-linked militants to stage a series of bombings when it announces official election results this month, authorities said on May 6. / AFP / Nalendra

Indonesian authorities have foiled an ISIS-linked plot by militants to attack the country on the day that it officially announces its election results.

Police revealed on Monday that they had arrested eight suspects in the past week. Some were arrested in Sumatra and others near the capital, Jakarta. The group planned to set off bombs at various locations when the world's biggest Muslim majority nation releases election results on May 22.

They said the suspects were members of Jamaah Anshurat Daulah, a local group that has pledged its allegiance to ISIS. The group has disbanded last year for “conducting terrorism” and affiliating with a foreign international terror organisation.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said the suspects intended to use explosives and firearms to imitate the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which militants carried out a series of attacks and bombings across India's financial capital.

"They have two goals – the first is to target police officers and the second is to exploit election momentum," he said.

While Indonesia has largely managed to keep a lid on extremism in the country following the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed more than 200 people, several ISIS-linked or radical Islamist attacks have taken place in the country in recent years.

In March, the wife and son of a suspected militant blew themselves up in their home on the island of Sumatra after hours of tense negotiations with counter-terrorism officers.

Indonesia also saw a series of gruesome attacks in the city of Surabaya a year ago, when whole families, including children as young as nine, strapped on explosive vests and blew themselves up at churches and police stations, killing more than 30 people.

The roundup comes after ISIS-inspired Easter suicide bombings killed 257 in Sri lanka, and as Indonesia marks the anniversary of its worst terror attack in years, which saw a dozen killed at churches targeted by Islamist suicide bombers last May.