A deadly bomb and gun attack in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday marks the third time that ISIS-affiliated groups targeted Muslim-majority countries this week. The attack in Indonesia follows a suicide bombing near the iconic Blue Mosque in Istanbul on Tuesday, and a bombing on the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo called the attacks that have killed at least seven people, including four attackers, an “act of terror.”
“We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people,” he said.
Streets were crowded with the lunchtime rush when bombs exploded at a downtown Jakarta Starbucks and a police security post. Gun battles between armed police officers and the attackers broke out in the streets soon afterward.
CREDIT: AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim
A total of six explosions were heard in a matter of minutes, according to witnesses.
“Six gunmen on motorbikes entered the downtown area carrying long rifles, shooting into the crowd, with some carrying explosives,” Step Vaessen of Al Jazeera reported from Jakarta. “One of the gunman shot a police officer from close range.”
“The police are still investigating so we don’t know how and why the attack happened. There were at least six explosions, and so far it looks like the police [were] the target,” he added.
Each of the attacks this week occurred in Muslim-majority countries and were claimed by the militant Islamist group, ISIS.
The attack in Jalalabad killed seven security force members, and was claimed by a group that broke away from the Afghan Taliban and declared loyalty to ISIS.
Eight of the ten people killed in the attack on the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul were German tourists. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the suicide bomber was of Syrian origin, and the country’s prime minister said that he was a member of ISIS.
ISIS’ teachings are a radicalized, bastardized version of Islam. It’s brutal attacks on civilians of any faith have been roundly condemned by mainstream Muslim leaders. The actions of Islamist militant organizations including ISIS have wrought more havoc on Muslims than people of other faiths.
According to a 2011 report by the National Counterterrorism Center, Muslims are the most likely victims of Islamist militancy.
“In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years,” the report said.
It did not note how frequently religious affiliation could be determined amongst terrorism victims, so the figure is difficult to contextualize.
From 2004 to 2013, the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan accounted for about half of all terrorist attacks — and the majority of fatalities from terrorist attacks.
The rise of ISIS, which has called on its sympathizers to carry out attacks in their home countries, has led to an increased threat in countries such as France and the United States, which both saw deadly ISIS-inspired attacks in 2015. Still, the vast majority of the group’s victims live inside of Muslim majority countries where they hold territory.