MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) — Two suspected militants attacked a provincial police headquarters in western Indonesia on Sunday, leaving an officer and an assailant dead during Islam’s most important holiday, an official said.
Wielding a knife and a machete, the men stormed the police headquarters in North Sumatra’s provincial capital of Medan and stabbed to death an officer who was at his post, said National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.
Responding officers shot the two attackers, killing one and seriously wounding the other, he said.
The attack came when most Indonesians were celebrating the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
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Wasisto said the attackers were allegedly part of an extremist group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State group militants in Syria. He did not identify the group by name, but said police arrested three members who were plotting an attack.
“They want to execute an Islamic State command that tells their followers to carry out attacks anywhere with whatever they have,” Wasisto told reporters in the capital, Jakarta.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has carried out a sustained crackdown on militants since the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, but a new threat has emerged from Islamic State group sympathizers. In recent years, smaller and less deadly strikes have been targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces.
North Sumatra police spokeswoman Rina Sari Ginting said police searched the attackers’ houses and seized a black flag of the Islamic State group, a document planning the attack, a picture of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a laptop computer, a jihadi video and machetes.
Twin suicide bombings last month killed three officers in the deadliest militant attack in Jakarta in a year. Police announced Thursday that they had arrested 41 suspected militants following the bombing, allegedly carried out by members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, which is affiliated with the Islamic State group.