Excerpts From the WSJ:
Indonesia has a long history of dealing with violent extremists. Following the bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 which killed 202 people, mostly tourists, Indonesia aggressively cracked down on the groups involved. With funding and training from the U.S., Australia and elsewhere, a professional counterterrorism force was launched that dismantled radical groups.
Until this latest attack, there had not been a coordinated assault targeting multiple spots in the capital for more than five years. The few attacks that did occur in the period were small-scale and aimed at security forces.
The rapid and coordinated response by the police and other security officials in the capital Thursday suggests that their experience and training—aided by splits within the extremist groups—are still paying some dividends.
It remains uncertain what the group had planned, but if they had been able to storm their way into a room or a building with many people inside, they could have boosted the duration of the attack as well as the death toll, analysts said.
“The attackers were either inept and unprepared, or their initial attack plot fell apart quickly and they had to improvise” and failed as they were hemmed in, said Todd Elliott, a terrorism analyst at Concord Consulting in Jakarta. “The response by the security force was very quick and very deliberate.”
Thursday’s attack started about 10:40 a.m. when one of the attackers blew himself up inside a Starbucks coffee shop, in an area surrounded by restaurants and cafes, offices, embassies and government buildings. Seconds later, an explosion struck a nearby traffic-police stand in the middle of a busy intersection.
Mr. Karnavian said that when security forces arrived minutes later, they focused on managing the crowds that had gathered around the police post. They didn’t think any attackers were still in the area, he said.
Then two shooters appeared and started firing on the crowds. Mr. Karnavian said police returned fire and pinned them down in the parking lot in front of the Starbucks. “There was nowhere for them to go,” he said.
One attacker, who was already injured, tried to throw an explosive device but it blew up in a sheet of flame. Police who had gathered around the Starbucks moved in and fired on the other attackers until they were sure they were dead.
Mr. Karnavian says the attack—which was over in just 22 minutes—appeared fairly well planned, since “they could mount two attacks almost simultaneously.” But it was badly executed, he said.
The attackers had only small explosives and a couple of firearms, and they were quickly overwhelmed by well-equipped forces, he said. The police subsequently found one larger explosive device—about the size of a lunch box—and several hand grenades in the attackers’ backpacks. Mr. Karnavian said they probably had planned on doing more damage, but were stopped.