Bali blast mastermind killed

JAKARTA: One of three terror suspects killed during raids today near Jakarta may include what authorities said was one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings, but police were still trying to confirm his identity.

The suspected mastermind, an electronics specialist named Dulmatin, was earlier thought to have fled to the Philippines, and the US government has offered a reward of up to $10 million for his capture. The Bali suicide bombings, targeting nightclubs popular with foreigners, killed 202 people and were Indonesia’s worst terror attacks.

The first of the three suspects was killed after he shot at police during a raid on an Internet cafe southwest of the Indonesian capital on the country’s main island of Java, police spokesman Maj Gen Edward Aritonang said. The suspect fired a single shot from a revolver before he died, Aritonang said.

Local media and two Indonesian authorities who did not want to be named said the suspect was believed to be Dulmatin. However, Aritonang said authorities were still trying to determine the identity of the suspect and would conduct DNA tests of the body before announcing the suspect’s identity.

“We will announce who he is as soon as police identify him,” Aritonang said.

Police have mistakenly thought that Dulmatin was killed in the past, and militant leader Noordin Mohammad Top, also blamed for the Bali bombings, was mistakenly reported killed in a shootout with police on Java a month before he died in a police raid in September. The Internet cafe manager, Rinda Riyani, said the suspect had begun using an upstairs computer only five minutes before plainclothes police rushed in.

“I heard gunshots and later saw the man was dead,” said Riyani, who had been downstairs and did not see the shooting. Two other customers, a man and woman, were taken by police for questioning, he said. Police later arrested two other suspects at a nearby house in Pamulang district and shot and killed two others as they tried to flee, Aritonang said. One of the slain suspects had fired a handgun, he said.

An additional terror suspect was arrested in Jakarta earlier today, bringing to 24 the number of suspects taken into custody on Java and the western province of Aceh since February 22 in a police crackdown on a suspected Aceh cell of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional offshoot of the al-Qaida terror group.

Aritonang said today’s raids were based on information gleaned from those already arrested.

The suspects captured in Aceh had provided police with information about Dulmatin’s whereabouts, a government official told The Associated Press.

Dulmatin had been seen in the southern Philippines as recently as three months ago, the official said.

Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf said the terror group members had come to his province from Java and that some of those members were from the Pamulang district that was raided by police today.

They planned to send militants to Gaza to fight Israel, Yusuf said.

Aceh authorities had watched the group recruiting in the province since last year but were unable to act until their paramilitary training camp was found and raided on February 22, Yusuf said.