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Thu 14 Jan 2016 10:20 AM

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Militants launched a gun and bomb attack in Jakarta, killing at least 6

ISIL fighters said it had put Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, in their "spotlight"

Militants launched a gun and bomb attack in Jakarta, killing at least 6
(Getty Images)

Militants
launched a gun and bomb assault killing at least six people in the center of
the Indonesian capital on Thursday, police said, in an attack that followed a
threat by ISIL fighters to put the country in their "spotlight".

Media said six
bombs went off and a Reuters witness saw three dead people and a gunfight going
on. One blast was in a Starbucks cafe and security forces were later seen
entering the building.

Police said
they suspected a suicide bomber was responsible for at least one of the blasts
and up to 14 militant gunmen were involved in the attack, Metro TV reported.

"The
Starbucks cafe windows are blown out. I see three dead people on the road.
There has been a lull in the shooting but someone is on the roof of the
building and police are aiming their guns at him," said a Reuters
photographer.

Indonesia has
been on edge in recent weeks over the threat posed by Islamist militants and
counter-terrorism police have launched a crackdown on people with suspected
links to ISIL.

"We have
previously received a threat from ISIL that Indonesia will be the
spotlight," police spokesman Anton Charliyan told reporters. But he said
police did not know who was responsible.

He said three
policemen and three civilians had been killed.

"I saw a
police officer shot right in front of me," one witness told TV One.

One explosion
went off in front of a shopping center called the Sarinah mall, on a main
avenue. Media said a police post outside the mall was blown up.

Police snipers
were deployed among hundreds of other security officers.

A UN building
near the scene was in lock-down with no one allowed in or out, a witness said.
Some other high-rise buildings in the area were evacuated.

Indonesia's
central bank is located in the same area, and a spokesman for the bank said a
policy meeting was going ahead and a decision on interest rates would be
announced as planned later in the day.

An explosion
was heard in the western suburb of Palmerah, according to a domestic media
tweet, but police said they could not confirm a blast there.

Indonesia has
the world's largest Muslim population, the vast majority of whom practise a
moderate form of the religion.

The country saw
a spate of militant attacks in the 2000s, the deadliest of which was a
nightclub bombing on the holiday island of Bali that killed 202 people, most of
them tourists.

Police have
been largely successful in destroying domestic militant cells since then, but
officials have more recently been worrying about a resurgence inspired by
groups such as ISIL and Indonesians who return after fighting with the group.

The last major
militant attacks in Jakarta were in July 2009, with bombs at the JW Marriott
and Ritz Carlton hotels.

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