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Seven dead after suicide bombs set off in Indonesian capital Jakarta

In this photo, released by China's Xinhua News Agency, an unidentified man with a gun walks in the street as people run in the background on Thamrin street near Sarinah shopping mall in Jakarta. Picture: Veri Sanovri/Xinhua via AP

AT least seven people are dead after attackers set off suicide bombs and exchanged gunfire outside a Starbucks cafe in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta yesterday.

All five attackers and a Canadian and an Indonesian died in the mid-morning explosions and gunfire that were watched by office workers from high-rise buildings on Thamarin Street, not far from the presidential palace and US Embassy, police said. Another 19 people were injured.

Police said the incident "imitated" the Paris terror attacks in November and was linked to the Islamic State group.

"We have identified all attackers ... we can say that the attackers were affiliated with the ISIS group," national police spokesman Major General Anton Charilyan told reporters, referring to the Islamic State group.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. But the Aamaq news agency, which is affiliated with Islamic State, quoted an unnamed source as saying the group carried out the violence.

The news agency has been used as a source on the IS militants in the past.

Jakarta police chief Major General Tito Karnavian told a news conference that the first suicide bombing happened at a Starbucks restaurant, causing customers to run out. Outside, two gunmen opened fire, killing a Canadian and wounding an Indonesian, he said.

A Dutch Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said a Dutch man was seriously injured and was undergoing surgery.

At about the same time two other suicide bombers attacked a nearby traffic police booth, killing themselves and an Indonesian man. Minutes later a group of policemen were attacked by the remaining two gunmen, using homemade bombs. This led to a 15-minute gunfight in which both attackers were killed, police said.

Police then combed the building housing the Starbucks and another nearby building where they discovered six homemade bombs - five small ones and a big one.

"So we think ... their plan was to attack people and follow it up with a larger explosion when more people gathered. But thank God it didn't happen," Mr Charilyan said.

Police said the attackers had links with IS and were part of a group led by Bahrum Naim, an Indonesian militant who is now in Syria.

It was the first major attack in Indonesia's capital since the 2009 bombings of two hotels that killed seven people and injured more than 50. Before that, bombings at nightclubs on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

The attack prompted a security lockdown in central Jakarta and enhanced checks all over the crowded city of 10 million. Thamarin Street is home to many luxury hotels, high-rise office buildings and embassies, including the French.

Charilyan said police had received information in late November about a warning from the Islamic State group that "there will be a concert" in Indonesia, meaning an attack.

"This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people," president Joko Widodo said in a statement on television.

"The state, the nation and the people should not be afraid of, and be defeated by, such terror acts," he said.

The country had been on high alert after authorities said they foiled a plot by Islamic militants to attack government officials, foreigners and others. About 150,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed on New Year's Eve to guard churches, airports and other public places.

More than 9,000 police were also deployed in Bali.

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