The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Thursday, which resulted in seven deaths including five attackers.
At least three bombs exploded near a Starbucks cafe in downtown Jakarta on Thursday while gunmen also attacked a police post and other locations in Indonesia's capital. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, according to AFP, in an incident that analysts say displays the work of a more sophisticated terrorist cell operating in the country.
Up to a dozen attackers may be involved in the attacks that police said mimicked the Paris attacks on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people. Thursday's assaults took place in a busy shopping area close to many embassies and a United Nations office.
Indonesia's coordinating minister for politics, legal and security affairs, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, told journalists after reviewing the blast scene at Starbucks that fast-acting police prevented further carnage.
"This is suicide bombing, one was entering Starbucks and then three others tried to attack with thrown bombs, those were shot by Jakarta police chief of intelligence unit," Panjaitan said.
"They imitated the terror actions in Paris," said national police spokesman Anton Charliyan.
In the recent Paris attacks, gunmen and suicide bombers targeted a music venue, a sports stadium and cafes and restaurants.
Tri Seranto, a bank security guard, told The Associated Press he saw at least five attackers, including three suicide bombers who exploded themselves on their way into the Starbucks in downtown Jarkarta.
Seranto said he was out on the street when he saw the three men entering Starbucks and saw them blowing themselves up one by one. He said the other two attackers, carrying handguns, entered a police post from where he heard gunfire. He said he later saw one policeman dead and three seriously wounded.
But Charilyan, the police spokesman, denied the attackers blew themselves up. He said they may have thrown grenades.
Starbucks issued a statement saying that it had closed all its stores in Jakarta until further notice. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta issued an emergency message urging U.S. citizens to avoid downtown Jakarta.
Indonesia's government confirmed that a Dutch national and an Indonesian citizen were among the civilians killed.
"This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people," Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a televised address. "The state, nation and people should not be afraid of, and lose to, such terror acts."
Thursday's attack took place on Jalan Thamrin, Jakarta's main north-south thoroughfare where a number of major hotels, shopping malls, and high-rise office buildings are located. The presidential palace is located around a mile away to the north. Earlier reports of other IED attacks outside embassy locations appear to be incorrect.
It shows greater sophistication than has been seen in several previous bombings claimed by Islamic militant groups in Indonesia, the world's more populous Muslim nation, said Anton Alifandi, Deputy Head of Asia Analysis at IHS Country Risk, a London-based risk management company..
The location of the attacks is significant because it shows a continuing terrorist ability to strike in the heart of the capital, Alifandi said.
"It also reflects greater organizational capacity to deploy multiple personnel not seen since 2009," he said.
Two hotels were targeted in 2009 in an incident that killed seven people. A 2002 bombing on the resort island of Bali killed 202 people, the majority of them Australian nationals. Last month, police arrested nine men and said the group had wanted to "perform a 'concert' to attract international news coverage of their existence here." Police cited a document seized from the group that described the planned attacks as a "concert."
Previous attacks were on the island of Java, typically involving shootings against police and low-capacity IEDs carried on backpacks by lone militants, Alifandi said.
"Today's attacks indicate that militants are again targeting commercial premises, particularly global brands that would provide terrorists' with greater international exposure," he said.
The country has been on high alert after authorities said they had foiled a plot by Islamic militants to attack government officials, foreigners and others.
About 150,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed during New Year's Eve to guard churches, airports and other public places.
Contributing: Lia Nathalia in Jakarta