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Canadian among those killed in Indonesia attacks

Gunmen launched a series of co-ordinated attacks police said were probably linked to Islamic State


 
A police armored vehicle is parked outside a Starbucks cafe after an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

A police armoured vehicle is parked outside a Starbucks cafe after an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia’s capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

A Canadian man was killed in Indonesia’s capital Thursday when gunmen launched a series of co-ordinated attacks police said were probably linked to the Islamic State group.

Jakarta police chief Maj.-Gen. Tito Karnavian told a news conference that the first attack — a suicide bombing — happened at a Starbucks restaurant, causing customers to run outside, where two gunmen opened fire, killing the Canadian and wounding an Indonesian.

At about the same time two other suicide bombers attacked a nearby traffic police booth, killing themselves and an Indonesian man. Moments later, Karnavian said, a group of policemen was attacked by the remaining two gunmen, using homemade bombs. This led to a 15-minute gunfight in which both attackers were killed, he said.

All five gunmen were killed and twenty people were wounded in the attacks, police said.

Global Affairs Canada said Ottawa was working with Indonesian authorities to confirm the identity of the Canadian.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with those affected by attacks in Jakarta,” said spokeswoman Diana Khaddaj. “We are aware of media reports that a Canadian may have been among the victims. The Government of Canada, in collaboration with Indonesian authorities, is investigating.”

The federal government has also updated its travel advisory for Jakarta, advising Canadians to remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and avoid the downtown area at the centre of the attack.

Islamic State group backers have circulated a claim of responsibility on Twitter for attack.

A Canadian man working with the United Nations was in Jakarta for a meeting on Thursday and witnessed the panic triggered by the late-morning attack.

Jeremy Douglas, of Port Perry, Ont., was in a car when he first got a call from a UN security officer advising him there had been a blast very close to the office he was heading to.

In minutes, he had arrived at the building and was getting out of his vehicle when a second explosion occurred.

“I hadn’t even closed the car door and you heard the explosion. It was right across the street, kitty-corner to the office, about 100 metres,” the 44-year-old told The Canadian Press. “It was a big sizable explosion, definitely could hear it, you could feel it.”

At first, it was unclear what had occurred and confusion abounded, Douglas said, but subsequent small blasts sent people scurrying for cover.

Douglas and his colleagues rushed into the UN office building to a secure floor where they could see police and other security forces responding to the attack.

While inside, he said he heard the sound of gunfire as assailants and police faced off.

“They started a shootout in the street,” he said. “We were witnessing the tactical team sweeping … some armoured personnel carrier moved up the street. It was pretty crazy.”

The entire episode lasted about half an hour, Douglas said, and took place in a busy part of Jakarta’s downtown that is populated with many offices, hotels and embassies.

“There were a lot of people in the Starbucks,” he said, noting that UN staff had been injured at the cafe. “This is right in the centre of it, it’s pretty amazing that it was so few killed”

The attack came after several warnings in recent weeks from police that Islamic militants were planning something big.

Five hours after the attack, police declared the area secure.

“We believe there are no more attackers around Sarinah. We have taken control,” Jakarta police spokesman Col. Muhammad Iqbal said.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in a statement on national TV that the situation was under control and called on people to remain calm.

“The state, nation and people should not be afraid of, and lose to, such terror acts,” he said.

Thursday’s attacks prompted a security lockdown in central Jakarta and enhanced checks all over the crowded city of 10 million.

It was the first major attack in Indonesia’s capital since the 2009 bombings of two hotels that killed seven people and injured more than 50.

Before that, bombings at nightclubs on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

—with files from the Associated Press


 

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