Jakarta. The National Police confirmed that Wednesday’s blast at Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta was an act of terrorism, saying the explosive was filled with nails to inflict maximum harm to bystanders.
The improvised explosive device acted like a hand grenade, detonating on impact, National Police spokesman Sr. Comr.
Investigators are working to identify a suspect and determined that none of the four people severely injured in the blast were involved in the attack.
“At the moment we think that the victims are just victims,” he said on Thursday. “They are [Tanah Abang] locals and are well-known by other residents.”
The injured have been identified as Rukam, 56; Asep Samsudin, 66; Amir, 51; and Feri Andiyanto, 28. Rukam, known as Suro to friends,
remains in critical condition, said Yayok Witarto, head of medical care at the Sukanto Police Hospital in East Jakarta.
Suro also suffered severe burns across his body. The 59-year-old underwent a two-hour surgery on Thursday.
His daughter Titi said police and doctors have not allowed her to see her father.
Amir also suffers from severe burns throughout his body and remains in intensive care. Asep and Feri have improved enough speak to investigators, Yayok said.
“[Suro and Amir] are still in ICU and are unable to communicate,” he added.
Agus, a local resident and one of the first witnesses to arrive at the scene of the explosion, said the market had been relatively quiet, at least by Tanah Abang standards, when the blast occurred at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday. On a busier day, the carnage could have been much worse.
“I heard a big bang. Locals immediately rushed to the scene to help the victims,” Agus said, adding that he hadn’t seen any suspicious activities prior to the incident.
The witness also confirmed the victims all worked at the market.
Asep and Rukam are laborers, Amir is a parking attendant, while Feri works as a mechanic at a local motorcycle repair shop, Agus said.
Officers from the National Police,
Jakarta Police, the capital’s Gegana bomb squad and the country’s counterterrorism unit Densus 88 are investigating the case.
“What’s clear is the explosive device was homemade. Similar [explosives] have been used by other radical groups in West and East Java,”
Rikwanto said, adding that investigators are searching through documentation from other bomb attacks to identify the person or group responsible.
A bomb typically bears the maker’s “signature” in how it is wired, triggered, how the explosive chemicals are mixed and sourced, Rikwanto explained.
The device used in the Tanah Abang attack was wrapped inside a ball-like casing and laden with nails and bolts.
“We are trying to determine the trigger mechanism: Did it use friction or motion?” Rikwanto said.
The scene was still heavily guarded by police on Thursday as investigators brought in tracking dogs to search forfurther evidence.
Security officials have been on the lookout for Indonesian militants believed to have returned from fighting with the Islamic State movement in Syria.
Returning extremists are also believed to have been behind an attempted chlorine bomb attack on the TC Depok shopping mall south of Jakarta in February.
A police source told the Jakarta Globe earlier this month that all the chemicals used to manufacture the bomb were easily available, and perpetrators of the failed attack in Depok may have been attempting to produce the nerve agent sarin.
Indonesia, known for periodic bouts of both extremist and state violence in the past, has largely dismantled the Islamic militant networks responsible for a string of deadly attacks throughout the country in the early 2000s.
But the rise of IS poses a new threat, with hundreds of Indonesians confirmed to have fled the country to join the jihadist group, triggering concerns they may return as a domestic extremist threat.
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