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Off-duty cop thwarted bombers in Jakarta attacks

HERO: Lt-Col Untung shot a militant before he could detonate a bomb in Thursday's siege.


    Jan 19, 2016

    Off-duty cop thwarted bombers in Jakarta attacks

    ATTEMPTS by militants to detonate more bombs during Thursday's terror siege on Central Jakarta were foiled by an off-duty police officer who shot and killed one attacker, while incapacitating another - both at close-range.

    The officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Untung Sangaji, told reporters yesterday he had no choice but to gun down Sunakim alias Afif, the most recognisable of the four militants who mounted the attack. This was because he saw that Sunakim was about to hit a switch that was likely to detonate a bomb he was carrying in his backpack.

    The instructor at the Maritime Police Training Centre also shot at the legs of a second militant, possibly Muhammad Ali, whom Lt-Col Untung believed was also carrying a detonator.

    Like Sunakim, Ali had a pistol in his right hand. Both men had been shooting randomly into the crowds and at police officers.

    An Explosive Ordinance Disposal officer later recovered from Ali's bag a homemade bomb that was 40cm long and 15cm in diameter.

    "If this exploded, the impact and shrapnel would probably travel as far as 3 to 4km, or about as powerful as 10 grenades," said Lt-Col Untung, who was previously with the police bomb squad.

    A total of six unexploded bombs - the one from Ali and five smaller ones - were found at the scene after all four militants were killed, the police had said previously.

    Lt-Col Untung was recounting his heroics - which were also captured on closed-circuit television - during a press conference yesterday at the national police headquarters.

    He said he was near Jalan M. H. Thamrin having coffee with a colleague minutes before the attack started. They had left to have a cigarette when the first explosions went off outside a Starbucks cafe in the Menara Cakrawala building.

    "I rushed out and saw the police post at the nearby traffic junction in smoke," he said.

    "When I got to the police post, I heard someone from inside shouting: 'Help, help, a police officer is injured.'"

    He added that a crowd had already gathered at the scene - not to help but to take photos with their cellphones. "Seconds later, there was a sound, 'bang-bang', and one of those people who were taking a selfie fell over."

    Lt-Col Untung immediately shouted for everyone to "get down", drew his pistol and went after the shooter with a fellow officer he referred to only as Tamat.

    Sunakim, 32, and Ali, 39, had recently been released from prison after serving time for terror-related offences.

    Police earlier identified their accomplices as Dian Joni Kurniadi and Ahmad Muhazin, both 25.

    The police believed that they had been acting under the direction of Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

    So far 12 other suspects, believed to have ties to Bahrun's militant cell in Indonesia, have been rounded up since