National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said on Friday that three loyalists of the country's most wanted terror suspect, Santoso, had planned to bomb a number locations in Surabaya, East Java, including several police stations.
The three suspects, now in police custody, allegedly sent a package containing a bomb from Surabaya to Makassar, South Sulawesi, after they cancelled their planned attacks.
"The package was sent via a logistics company from Surabaya to Makassar. [The bomb] was initially aimed at several targets in Surabaya, but maybe they did not find the right moment [to attack there] so they delivered the bomb to South Sulawesi instead," Sutarman said in Jakarta on Friday.
Sutarman pointed out that none of the planned bombing sites were related to the upcoming general election.
After discovering the package containing the bomb, the police's Densus 88 counterterrorism unit tracked down and arrested the suspects in three separate locations in South Sulawesi, Bengkulu and Lampung on Monday.
"They are members of Santoso's group. One was involved in the murder of two police officers in Poso [Central Sulawesi] and a series of attacks there," Sutarman said.
He was referring to the abduction and murder of Poso police officers, First Brig. Andi Sappa and Brig. Sudirman, in October 2012. After an eight day search the officers' bodies were eventually found buried in a hole in a forested area near Tamanjeka hamlet in Poso.
"The suspect was trained to assemble bombs in a paramilitary training camp in Tamanjeka," Sutarman added.
Santoso's group members are believed to be taking refuge in the jungles of Gunung Biru in Tamanjeka.
Separately, National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie, quoting reports from Densus 88 chief Brig. Gen. M. Syafii, said that they had detained two suspects in the case. The first suspect, identified as BA, was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on March 13 after disembarking a flight from Makassar.
"On Wednesday, March 19, a terror suspect, identified as AI, was detained at a gas station on Jl. P. Natadirja in Bengkulu. He is a member of the East Mujahidin Indonesia terror group led by Santoso and Sabar Subagyo and was involved in the murder of the police officers in Tamanjeka," Ronny said in a statement.
The police confiscated a package containing two bombs from a branch of logistics company PT Tiki Jalur Nugraha Ekakurir (JNE) in Sengkang, South Sulawesi. One of the bombs was a plastic explosive, while the other was a pipe bomb.
"We believe they planned to set of the bombs at warung remang-remang [nightspot] in Barabba Belopa, Luwu regency, South Sulawesi," Ronny explained.
Sutarman claimed the latest arrests showed that the police had changed their approach and were making an effort to apprehend terror suspects as opposed to conducting raids where the suspects were usually killed in the ensuing gunfights.
The National Police have been slammed for killing six terror suspects in a nine-hour gunfight in a raid in South Tangerang, Banten on New Year's Eve.
The suspects were allegedly responsible for a series of attacks in Greater Jakarta, including the murder of three police officers and the bombing of a vihara.