JAKARTA - An Indonesian suicide bomber has died fighting with the Islamic State organisation in Iraq, a monitoring group said Tuesday, sparking fresh concern from Jakarta authorities who fear the group is spawning a new generation of radicals.
The bomber is believed to have died in a weekend attack in Iraq, and police suspect a total of five Indonesians have now been killed while fighting with jihadist groups this year in the Middle East.
Reports of foreigners from various countries heading to fight with IS, which controls vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, have raised fears they could return home and launch attacks.
Authorities in Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, estimate that around 60 Indonesians have headed to the Middle East to fight with IS but analysts think the real figure may be as high as 200.
Indonesia launched a successful crackdown on militants more than a decade ago after a series of deadly attacks, but fears are growing that militants returning from fighting with IS could revive sophisticated networks.
In the latest suspected death, monitoring group SITE and a jihadist website in Indonesia said an Indonesian drove an explosives-packed van into a military base outside Tikrit north of Baghdad on Saturday.
The website identified him as Hanzhalah Al-Indunisi, although analysts said this was not his real name.
Photos sent out by SITE, which were published on an IS-linked website, showed the alleged attacker reading the Quran and a plume of smoke after the van was driven into the base.
It is the second suspected case of an Indonesian becoming a suicide bomber while fighting with IS militants in Iraq this year. Local media reported the first case in February.
National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said officials were still trying to confirm details of the incident and verify an Indonesian was involved. But if confirmed, he said it would be "serious".
"We have banned people from going there to fight, but they insist on going," he said, referring to an official ban on support for IS jihadists introduced a few months ago.