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Indonesian minister stabbed by IS-linked couple

October 10, 2019

The security minister, Wiranto, was treated at a hospital for two stab wounds to the abdomen after having been attacked by a married couple. Islamist extremism has risen in Indonesia in recent years.

Indonesian Security Minister Wiranto speaks at a press conference
Image: picture-alliance/AP/A. Ibrahim

Indonesia's chief security minister, Wiranto, was stabbed Thursday by two members of a terror group linked to the  "Islamic State" (IS), the country's intelligence agency said.

Wiranto was stabbed as he was getting out of a car at an event in Pandeglang, a city on the island of Java, west of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. Images of the attack showed officers wrestling a man and a woman to the ground after they rushed the minister. Police suspect the two are a married couple.

"When the car stopped, there were people circling around, protecting him," a witness told AFP news agency. 

"But a man got into the circle and stabbed Wiranto. The woman also tried to stab him."

According to police, Wiranto, who goes by one name, was in stable condition and conscious after the attack. The minister was airlifted to a hospital in Jakarta where he underwent surgery for two wounds to his abdomen.

Read moreHow Indonesian women are lured to jihad

The head of Indonesia's state intelligence agency, Budi Gunawan, said the attackers were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an IS-inspired extremist group that carried out suicide bombings targeting churches in Surabaya last year killing 30 people.

Authorities say the group has a large following in Bantan province where the attacks took place. 

Islamist extremism in Indonesia

Dozens of radical groups in Indonesia have pledged loyalty to IS, as the world's largest Muslim-majority country deals with a surge of militancy. 

Hundreds have been detained since new anti-terrorism laws were introduced in 2019. 

Read moreWhy is radicalism growing among Indonesian students?

The motive for Wednesday's attack is not immediately clear. Wiranto is a former general who currently coordinates and supervises Indonesia's national police and defense agencies, which have run the government's counterinsurgency campaign.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo spoke to the media in front of the hospital where Wiranto is being treated and called the suspect a "terrorist."

"I ask for everyone's help in fighting radicalism and terrorism because we can only do it together," he said. 

From terrorist to barista

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wmr (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)